Islamic Occultism: In Theory and Practice

Courtesy of Liana Saif: here you find a description of the upcoming conference “Islamic Occultism: In Theory and Practice.” Not exactly ‘ancient’ in orientation (no pun intended), but absolutely relevant to followers of esoteric currents in antiquity, given the enormous and vibrant reception-history of ancient texts and cultures in the Islamic World. Should be exciting! For the full program, see here.

Organised by Liana Saif (Oriental Institute), Francesca Leoni (Ashmolean), Farouk Yahya (Ashmolean) and Matthew Melvin-Koushki (University of South Carolina), “Islamic Occultism in Theory and Practice” is the first gathering of scholars that will closely consider the relationship between Islamic occultist theory and practice, bridging the gap between material culture, manuscript studies and intellectual history; and on an institutional level, between the curatorial and academic spheres. It will also highlight the special and evocative status of divinatory and magical objects – material and spiritual, visual and devotional – and the manifestation of this uniqueness in occult works which often contain images, diagrams, cosmographies, and symbols. Furthermore, it will be an opportunity to evaluate curatorial, codicological and historiographic practices and methods in the field and provide a platform for junior researchers to engage with established scholars and present new findings in a growing field. More broadly, therefore, the conference is intended to help consolidate the new field of Islamic occultism, establishing it as a useful and fruitful area of research.

The conference will be held at the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford), 6-8 January 2017,  coinciding with the final week of an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum titled “Power and Protection: Islamic Art and the Supernatural”. There is a registration fee of 25 GBP payable in person.