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ILSP: SHARIAsource Lunch Talk :: Early Islamic Political Theory Between Legal Discourse and Political Anthropology

April 26, 2018 @ 12:00 - 13:00

Early Islamic political theory as it enjoyed currency among the scholarly classes alternated between two possibilities: legal functionalism and political anthropology.  Critical to our understanding of these intellectual trends and their conceptual contours is an understanding of a “theoretical turn” in early Islamic thought which created the preconditions for a theory of power, and the domain of its proper application between the political and the religious.  Codified forms of early Islamic political theory, as well as those which went out of favor in subsequent generations have arguably less to do with a “tradition” of caliphal sovereignty than the nature of the intellectual resources available, and in fact proceeded from the presumption of an absence of religiously normative state structures.  This presentation will attempt a non-teleological archaeology of aforementioned political theories within an diachronic discursive analysis from the 8th to the 11th centuries of the common era.

Rodrigo Adem is an ILSP: SHARIAsource Visiting Fellow and Dumbarton Oaks College Fellow in Medieval Mediterranean History at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He studies pre-modern Muslim thought as an intellectual and social historian.  He is particularly interested in how scholarly networks mediated social and epistemic authority within the urban and political development of the Near East and Mediterranean over the 8th to 14th century.  He hopes to further current understanding of how paradigmatic scholarly traditions of law, theology, historiography, philosophy, mysticism, and political thought came to be codified during this period, and persist in key facets of Muslim thought to the present day.


April 26, 2018
12:00 - 13:00
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Austin 102
Austin Hall, Harvard Law School United States