The Origins of the Islamic State: Sovereignty and Power in the Middle Ages

The Origins of the Islamic State: Sovereignty and Power in the Middle Ages, London, Feb 16-17, 2017

We are delighted to announce that the conference ‘ The Origins of the Islamic State: Sovereignty and Power in the Middle Ages’ will be held in London at UCL on Thursday 16th and Friday17th February 2017.

This is a free event generously supported by a British Academy BARSEA award and open to all who have registered via Eventbrite . We ask that you register by Sunday 12th February to ensure that we order sufficient refreshments.


UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY


 Dr. Corisande Fenwick, UCL (


Thursday 16th February: Day 1 (11am-6pm)

 11:15am Introduction

  • Corisande Fenwick (UCL)

 11:30am Keynote Lecture: Early Islam in Comparative Perspective: How Different was the Caliphate? 

  • Andrew Marsham (University of Edinburgh)

 Lunch 12:30pm-1:30pm

 1:30pm Thinking the Islamic State anew

  • Annliese Nef (Université Paris 1- Panthéon Sorbonne)

 2:15pm The early Islamic state as an economic actor

  • Hugh Kennedy, SOAS

 3:00pm Conceptualising the Study of Early Islamic Elites

  • Simon Gundelfinger, Hannah Hagemann, Ahmad Khan, and Peter Verkinderen, University of Hamburg

3:45pm -4:15pm Coffee

4:15pm Paying for the Caliphate – Fiscal practice in the documents of the Abbasid period and the continuing formation of the Early Islamic State

  • Marie Legendre, SOAS

5:00pm Taxation and protest against the early Islamic empire

  • Edmund Hayes, University of Tuebingen/ Leiden

6:00pm Drinks Reception

Friday 17th February: Day 2 (10am-5:30pm)

10:00am Introduction 

10:15am How to Found an Islamic State: Rulership, Authority and City-building in Medieval North Africa

  • Corisande Fenwick, UCL

 11:00am-11:30am Coffee

 11:30am The Malwiyya of Samarra: Symbol of Caliphal Authority

  • Andrew Petersen University of Wales, Trinity St David)

 12:15pm When the mosque was an extension of the palace: the mihrab as throne-room?

  •  Simon O’Meara (SOAS)

 1:00pm-2:00pm Lunch

 2:00pm When the man of Maʿāfir ruled al-Andalus: caliphal legitimacy and power exercise in the Tenth Century

  • Xavier Ballestin, Universitat de Barcelona

 2:45pm Revelational Politics:Justifying the Necessity of the Caliphate in Medieval Sunni Theological Writings

  • Han-Hsien Liew (Harvard)

 3:30pm- 4pm Coffee 

 4:00pm The Futuh in contemporary Muslim education in Britain

  • Philip Wood, Aga Khan


Concluding Keynote lecture : Daesh-Isis: the use and abuse of early Islamic history

  • Hugh Kennedy, SOAS