Space and Piety in the Mediterranean



Colin Mitchell and Megan Armstrong are seeking papers for a special interdisciplinary mini-conference on popular religious communities of the post-medieval Irano-Mediterranean frontier. It will take place at the annual meeting of the SCSC, this year to be held in Puerto Rico.

The early modern era (1400-1650) was undoubtedly a period of contact and acculturation. In recent years, there has been increasing interest by scholars in identifying and discussing how expanding cultures and polities – be they based in Istanbul, Venice, Seville, or Isfahan – understood their counterparts across what was once described in the late 1990s by Aziz al-Azmeh as “the Irano-Mediterranean Frontier”. Al-Azmeh’s designation of such was neither fanciful nor facile. He argued, quite convincingly, that the seemingly disparate medieval worlds of Islam and Christendom inherited a vision of society, politics and religion that had been forged in the post-Hellenistic crucible which had so profoundly shaped the worlds of both Mediterranean and Iranian civilization during late Antiquity. To be sure, the religious landscape of the Irano-Mediterranean frontier zone underwent profound changes from the 8-10th centuries as both Christianity and Islam engaged this legacy on a number of levels – theological, legal, societal, philosophical, scientific – to produce new cosmographies and socio-cultural systems which accommodated their respective surrounding contexts.

On this front, the theme of this proposal is to invite papers that focus on namely those “lay” communities who advocated a unique religious identity that did not necessarily prescribe to the ecclesiastical and discursive norm that had emerged by the late medieval period. Such Muslim, Jewish and Christian popular “associations of piety” – e.g. confraternities, guilds, brotherhoods – are now increasingly of interest to modern scholars and their quest to query the dominant narrative defined by the hybrid “establishment” of church/mosque and state.

The theme of these proposed panels is designed fundamentally to bring together those scholars of the early modern Mediterranean and Middle East who are interested in how such constituencies, communities, and organizations shaped and influenced socio-religious categories of orthopraxy, orthodoxy, and heterodoxy. For instance, how does current scholarly research on European confraternities (often seen in the context of guilds, purgatorial societies, meistersingers, troupes performing mystery/miracles plays) share the same body of concerns, questions, and debates currently informing the academic study of pre-modern Sufi tariqahs (brotherhoods), futuwwa (urban pietistic associations), and other popular heterodox Muslim communities.  The question emerges: to what extent can we identify and discuss the post-medieval Irano-Mediterranean frontier zone as a space wherein such pietistic collectives and associations were moving alongside, or independent of, established ecclesiastical and juridical spheres in their respective quotes to locate a “genuine” religious identity? On a more philosophical level: can we look to such communities as vehicles of transmission for innovative cosmologies and metaphysical systems which swept across the post-medieval worlds of Europe and the Middle East in the 15-17th centuries?

Possible panel topics:

Cities/civic governance and pietistic associations

Literature/drama/aesthetics and pietistic associations

Religious texts/exegesis and pietistic associations

Pietistic associations and relationship with the state

Resistance and pietistic associations

Theology/theosophy and pietistic associations

Social history and pietistic associations

Socio-ethnic history and pietistic associations

Philosophy and pietistic associations

Conversion and pietistic associations


Scholars interested in participating in this event should send an abstract and brief biography to either Colin Mitchell (c.mitchell@Dal.Ca) or Megan Armstrong (  no later than March 10, 2013. Complete panels as well as individual submissions are welcome.

Conference Registration

Once accepted, all participants will be expected to register with the SCSC for its main conference. There is no separate registration for the mini conference. Hotel information and all other details on the SCSC conference can be found on its website: You will also find attached here the CFP for the event.

Please do not hesitate to ask us should you have any questions about the event.

Colin Mitchell and Megan Armstrong

This entry was posted in Conferences, Early Modern Europe, Early Modern World, European Wars of Religion, Globalization, Reformation History, Renaissance Art and History. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Space and Piety in the Mediterranean

  1. Nickoal says:

    Reblogged this on TYBURN TRIALS and commented:
    Call for Papers: Space and Piety in the Mediterranean

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.