Fatimids and Umayyads : Biographies

Conference description
Conference programme

Speaker Biographies

Lotfi Abdeljaouad

Cyrille Aillet

Miriam Ali de Unzaga

Xavier Ballestín

Michael Brett

Agostino Cilardo

Anna Contadini

Patrice Cressier

Maribel Fierro

Roland-Pierre Gayraud

Nejmeddine Hentati

Shainool Jiwa

Wilferd Madelung

Eduardo Manzano Moreno

Fátima Martín Escudero

Tawfiq Ibrahim

María Antonia Martínez Núñez

Annliese Nef

David Bramoullé

Marina Rustow

Isabel Toral-Niehoff

Antonio Vallejo Triano

Paul E. Walker

Discussant Biographies

Carmela Baffioni

Doris Behrens-Abouseif

Sarah Bowen Savant

Farhad Daftary

Delia Cortese

Mohammed Hamdouni Alami

Hugh Kennedy

Stephane Pradines

Wafi Momin 


Lotfi Abdeljaouad is a Researcher at the Institut National du Patrimoine (Tunis). He has a Ph.D. in Arabic Epigraphy, University Aix-Marseille I. He has been a lecturer at the University of Raqqāda, 2002–2005 and at the University of Tunis 1, 2006–2010. He has participated in archaeological excavations such as Ṣabra al-Manṣūriyya, 2003–2007 and Madīnat Sulṭān, Surt (Libya), 2004. His publications include: “L’inscription de la fortification de Sabra al-Mansouriyya à Kairouaninfo-icon (437/1045–1046): restitution et nouvelle lecture,” in Revue tunisienne d'histoire militaire (2009); “Une nouvelle lecture de l’inscription d’Ibn Abi–l-Rijāl, l’astrologue kairouanais et le ministre d’al-Muʿizz b. Bādīs (426/1034–1035),” in Actes du sixième colloque international sur l’histoire des Steppes tunisiennes (Tunis, 2010); “Nouvelles considérations sur les deux inscriptions arabes dites du Champa,” in Archipel Études interdisciplinaires sur le monde insulindien, no. 83 (2012), Paris; “Les Ateliers lapidaires non signataires à Kairouan au 5è s. H./11è s. J.C.,” in Revue Tunisienne d’Archéologie, no. 1 (2013).


Cyrille Aillet is an Assistant Professor of Islamic medieval history at the University of Lyon 2. His research mainly deals with political ideologies, the process of Islamisation and the building of collective identities in the Muslim West. His Ph.D. Les Mozarabes: Christianismeislamisation et arabisation en péninsule IbériqueIXe-XIIe siècle has been published in 2010. Since then, he is mostly interested in the history and archaeology of Ibāḍism in North Africa; he has published (L’ibadisme, une minorité au coeur de l’Islam (2012), and led a research project funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche and Max van Berchem Foundation (2010-2014). He has recently co-authored with Patrice Cressier and Sophie Gilotte Sedrata: histoire et archéologie d’un carrefour du Sahara médiéval (forthcoming). 


Miriam Ali de Unzaga is a Visiting Research Fellow, 2016 at The Institute of Ismaili Studies and alumna of its Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (class of 2000). She completed her Masters and Ph.D. from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology in Material Culture and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford. Part of her fieldwork was conducted as a weaver apprentice in a mountain region in Morocco. She received post-doctoral fellowships from The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2008); the Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East, University of Oxford (2008-2009); and the Aga Khaninfo-icon Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic Art, Harvard University (2009). As a result she has conducted extensive multi-sited fieldwork in North Africa, Europe and North America. She specialises in Islamic art and material culture, with a focus on Mediterranean textiles. Her approach is to explore and shed light on the role of textiles in a variety of contexts, mechanisms and processes. Currently, her research concentrates on the multiplicity of perceptions on textiles in cross-cultural Muslim and non-Muslim medieval encounters. Recently, she has written a catalogue of the Egyptian textiles of the Early Islamic period for the Papyrus Museum of the Austrian National Library (forthcoming). Other publications include “Embroidery Politics,” in the 13th Symposium of the Textile Society of America (2012), Founding Presidents Award for the best paper (ex aequo) “Revisiting Andalusi-Umayyad Caliphal Material Culture: The Multiple Biographies of the Embroidery in Oña, Burgos,” in A. Shalem, ed., The Chasuble of Thomas Becket in the Cathedral of Fermo (Genoa and New York, in press). She was also the co-guest editor (with A. Gaiser) of Facets of Exchange between the Medieval Iberian Peninsula and North Africa, Special Issue of The Journal of North African Studies 19, no. 1 (2014).


Xavier Ballestín is a Serra Hunter Professor in the History and Archaeology Department at the University of Barcelona. He has taught courses on Medieval History, the Medieval History of Spain, How to Think about History, al-Andalus between East and West, European Feudal Societies and Cultures and Mentalities in the Middle Ages. He holds a Doctorate in History (1998) from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (1986) and the Advanced Arabic Teaching Certificate (2000) from the State Languages School of Barcelona. His training in Arabic includes a scholarship in the Arabic Syrian Republic at the Arabic Teaching Institute for Foreigners, University of Damascus, where he lived two years (1988–1990), and two summer courses in Tunisia at the Institut Bourguiba pour les Langues Vivantes (1985–1986).

He worked in Yemen during two short archaeological fieldwork campaigns (1998; 1999). His doctoral thesis, entitled Mafakhir al-barbar. Estudi i traducció, is a translation and study of a late medieval anonymous text (c. 1314) of Berberinfo-icon history, in which due attention is given to the Fatimid and Umayyad war in the Maghribinfo-icon, as it appears in the lost chapters of Ibn Hayyān’s al-MuqtabisHis research interests include Islamic intellectual and material culture in the Iberian Northeast (today Catalonia); the relationship between legitimacy, the exercise of power and state structures between al-Andalus and the Maghrib; and the networks of tribal settlements, Arabic and Berber, in the Western Mediterranean during the VIIIth and XIth centuries.


Michael Brett is Emeritus Reader in the History of North Africa, SOAS. He graduated from Cambridge (Gonville and Caius College) with a BA Hons (1st Class) in 1955, going on to teach History at the University College of Cape Coast, Ghana, from 1962 to 1965. He completed his doctoral research at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) from 1966 to 1970; his Ph.D thesis was entitled ‘Fitnat al-Qayrawaninfo-icon: A Study of Traditional Arabic Historiography’. He lectured on North African, African and Fatimid/Near Eastern History at SOAS in the Africa Section of the History Department from 1970 to 2001. His publications include Ibn Khaldun and the Medieval Maghrib (1999); The Rise of the Fatimidsinfo-icon: the World of the Mediterranean and the Middle East in the Tenth Century CE (2001); The Approach to African History (2013); and The Fatimid Empire (forthcoming).


Agostino Cilardo is a Professor of Islamic Law, at the University “L’Orientale”, Naples (Italy). He held the position of Dean of the Faculty of Arabic–Islamic and Mediterranean Studies also at the University “L’Orientale”, Naples from 2006 to 2012. He is Editor of Studi Maġrebini; General Editor and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies; a member of the Scientific “Comité de Patronage” (Honorary Scientific Board) of Studia Asiatica; and a member of the Advisory Editorial Board of the Islamic History and Thought. Gorgias Press (USA). His publications include The Early History of Ismaili Jurisprudence: Law under the Fatimids. A Critical Edition of the Arabic Text and English Translation of al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān’s Minhāj al-farāʾiḍ (2012); “Ismaili Jurisprudence: A Reaffirmation of Its Early History,” in Arabica no. 62 (2015); “From Qurʾan to Fiqhinfo-icon: Sunni and Shiʿi Tafsīr on the Inheritance Verses and the ‘Named Cases’ (al-Masāʾil al-Mulaqqaba),” in The Meaning of the Word: Lexicology and Qur’anic Exegesis (2015); and “The Ibāḍī Law of Inheritance: Preliminary Notes on the Formation of the Ibāḍī School,” in Ibadi Jurisprudence. Origins, Developments and Cases (2015), as well as numerous encyclopaedia articles.


Anna Contadini is a Professor of the History of Islamic Art, Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London; Head of the School of Arts; Director of the “Griffin and Lion” and “Treasures of SOAS” projects, and a member of the Centre for Iranian Studies at the London Middle East Institute (LMEI). She has been a Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum (where she conducted research culminating in her book Fatimid Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1998); at the Chester Beatty Library, as well as a lecturer in Islamic Art at Trinity College, Dublin. Her doctoral thesis examined early Arab and Persian miniature painting, a research topic still central to her work.Professor Contadini’s research also extends to the material culture of the Islamic Middle East, its aesthetics and context as well as its relationship with European art. She has published extensively on the subjects of, for example, ivories, metalwork, and rock crystal objects. Her publications include A World of Beasts: a Thirteenth-Century Illustrated Arabic Book on Animals (the Kitāb Na‘t al-Ḥayawān) in the Ibn Bakhtīshūʿ Tradition (2012); “Facets of Light: The Case of Rock Crystals,” in J. Bloom and S. Blair, eds., God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth: Light in Islamic Art and Culture (2015); “Fatimid Ivories Within a Mediterranean Culture,” in K. von Folsach and J. Mayer, eds., The Ivories of Muslim Spain. Journal of the David Collection, 2, no. 2 (2005). She is currently working on a long-standing project on the Pisa Griffin and related metalwork that will culminate in a book to be published in 2017: The Pisa Griffin and the Mari-Cha Lion: Medieval Bronze Sculpture from the Middle East and Europe.


Patrice Cressier is a medievalist archaeologist, a specialist of the Maghrib region and of al-Andalus. He has been a member of la Casa de Velázquez, Madrid (1981–1984); a member of the German Archaeological Institute since 1998; Director of Research of la Casa de Velázquez (1994–2002), as well as a research associate at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) until he retired in 2015. He completed his thesis at the Université de Paris IV in 1981 on the topic of the Medieval Rif (Morocco); after that he focused his research on the organisation of the rural context in the South-East of al-Andalus, particularly he concentrated his attention on castles as links between rural communities and the central power as well as hydraulic systems and their role in developing agriculture. With regards to Morocco, he has concentrated on the formation of the Islamic city taking as case studies the capitals of several independent kingdoms in the High Middle Ages and those of the grand caravan towns (Nakūr, Ajmat, Tāmdult et Nūl Lamṭa). Also, a significant part of his research has been dedicated to the architectural decoration in the Islamic West. He has dedicated the last decade of his research to the topic of Ṣabra al-Manṣūriyya the caliphal Fatimid city, built in the vicinity of Qayrawan (Tunisia). 

Cressier is author and editor of numerous publications. He continues to actively participate as a member of editorial boards in French and Spanish journals of archaeology and history. He has been a member of the scientific committee for the exhibition entitled Maroc Médiéval. Un Empire de l’Afrique à l’Espagne, organised at the Musée du Louvre (2014). More recently, he has co-organised with Annliese Nef the symposium Les Fatimides et la Méditerranée Centrale (2 volumes, 2016); together with Maribel Fierro he is PI of the project The Caliphates of the Islamic West, Casa de Velázquez/CSIC (Madrid, 2015–2016). Currently, he is preparing with Mourad Rammah (INP) the publication of the excavations that took place at Ṣabra al-Manṣūriyya.


Maribel Fierro is a Research Professor in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and a member of the Research Group Cultural History of the Mediterranean at the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Mediterranean and Near East (ILC). She has worked and published on the political, religious and intellectual history of al-Andalus and the Islamic West, on Islamic law, and on violence and its representation in medieval Arabic sources. Among her publications, she is the editor of The New Cambridge History of Islam. Volume II: The Western Islamic World, Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries (Cambridge, 2010) co-editor (with C. Adang and S. Schmidtke) of Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba: The Life and Works of a Controversial Thinker (Leiden, 2012); and co-editor (with J. Tolan) of The Legal Status of Ḍimmi-s in the Islamic West (Turnhout, 2013). Together with Patrice Cressier she is PI of the project The Caliphates of the Islamic West, Casa de Velázquez/CSIC (Madrid, 2015–2016). She is currently working on a monograph, Knowledge, Heresy and Politics in the Medieval Islamic West (forthcoming). She is currently working on a monograph, Knowledge, Heresy and Politics in the Medieval Islamic West (forthcoming).


Roland-Pierre Gayraud is a member of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) of the Laboratoire d'Archéologie Médiévale et Moderne en Méditerranée (LA3M), University Aix-Marseille, and a lecturer at the same university (1979–1984 and 1998–2013). He gained his Ph.D. in Medieval History and Archaeology with his thesis La céramique médiévale en Corse d’après les fouilles de Bonifacio, from the Université de Provence, 1979. He has participated in numerous archaeological excavations such as those in Raqqa and Heraqliya under the Syrian Antiquities Service (1977), and in Mayadīn (Dayr al-Zūr) under the French Institute in Damascus and the Syrian Antiquities Service (1978). He has also collaborated with the Polish Archaeological Institute in the excavations of Kūm al-Dikka (Alexandria) under the direction of M. Rodziewicz (1980–1982); with the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAIK) on the Darb Qirmiz project under the direction of M. Meinecke and P. Speiser; and with the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) in the study of Mamluk-period ceramics excavated under G.T. Scanlon in Fustāt (1981). He was director of the excavations carried out by the Institut français d’archeologie orientale (IFAO) at al-Qaṣabā (Dakhla Oasis, 1979–1982); at the Islamic sector of Tebtynis (Fayyūm, 1991–1994); and at Isṭabl ‘Antar (Fustāt-Cairo, 1985–2005).

The Fustatinfo-icon excavations have resulted in the publication of E. Rodziewicz, Fustat I: Bone Carvings from Fustat – Istabl ʿAntarFouilles de Institut français d’archeologie orietale (FIFAO 70 2012); as well as two forthcoming volumes: R.P. Gayraud and L. Vallauri, with G. Guionova and J.C Tréglia, Fustat II: Fouilles d’Istabl ‘Antar. Céramiques d’ensembles, des IXe et Xe siècles, and R.P. Gayraud and J.C. Tréglia, with J. de Marchand, Fustat III: Fouilles d'Istabl ‘Antar. Céramiques d'ensembles, des VIIe et VIIIe siècles (in preparation). He has published articles in Annales Islamologiques and in various journals.


Nejmeddine Hentati is a Professor at the Institute of Islamic Civilization, Medieval History, ez-Zitouna University in Tunis, and the director of the Department of Civilization at the Institute of Islamic Civilization. He holds a Diploma of aptitude in research, Medieval History, Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, Tunis, 1984; a Master’s degree in History, Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, Tunis, 1980; a Certificate of habilitation, Medieval History, 2001, Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, Tunis, 1992; and a Doctorate in Medieval History, Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, Tunis, 1992. He has been, since 2012, president of the unit for research on the history of the capitals of the Muslim West, and was previously president of the research unit for the history of Qayrawan (2005–2012). In 2001 he was in France on a C.M.C.U. fellowship; at the Ecole Française de Rome in 2003; in 2007 in Paris on a Michel Foucault fellowship and in 2009 in New York on a Fulbright fellowship.  His publications include: Kairwan: A Civilized Capital in the History of Muslim West (supervisor/editor) Research Unit of Kairwan History (Tunis, 2006) (in Arabic); and Malikism in the Muslim West until the 5th/11th century (Tunis, 2004) (in Arabic, with some chapters translated into French and Italian, Etudes Arabes Rome, 2007); Scientific and Technical Contributions of Kairwan (supervisor/editor) Research Unit of Kairwan History (Tunis, 2011) in Arabic and French; Studies on the Civilization of Kairwan (supervisor/editor) Research Unit of Kairwan History (Tunis, 2015) (in Arabic). 


Shainool Jiwa is Head of the Constituency Studies Unit at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, where previously she was the co-ordinator of the Institute’s Qur’anic Studies Unit. Dr Jiwa is a specialist in Fatimid history, having completed her Master’s degree from McGill University and her doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. Dr Jiwa is on the Board of Governors of Edinburgh Napier University, and serves as Chief Examiner in Islamic History for the International Baccalaureate Organization. Her latest publication is The Founder of Cairo: The Fatimid Imaminfo-icon-Caliphinfo-icon al-Muizz and his Era (London, 2013), which complements her earlier work, Towards a Shi‘i Mediterranean Empire (London, 2009). She has also co-edited a volume on Shi‘i Islam titled, The Shi‘i World: Pathways in Tradition and Modernity (London, 2016). Dr Jiwa is currently working on a monograph on the life and times of the Fatimid imam-caliph al-ʿAzīz Biʾllāh.


Wilferd Madelung is Emeritus Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford. A leading contemporary Islamicist, he has made significant contributions to modern scholarship on mediaeval Islamic communities and movements, including Twelver Shi‘isminfo-icon, Zaydism and Ismailism. Educated at the Universities of Cairo and Hamburg, he became Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago in 1969 and the Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1978 until his retirement in 1998. Professor Madelung is at present Senior Research Fellow with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. Among his numerous publications are Religious Schools and Sects in Medieval Islam (London, 1985), Religious Trends in Early Islamic Iran (Albany, NY, 1988), Religious and Ethnic Movements in Medieval Islam (Aldershot, Hampshire, 1992), The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphateinfo-icon (Cambridge, 1997), and with Paul E. Walker, An Ismaili Heresiography (Leiden, 1998). He has contributed extensively to Encycopaedia Iranica and is Editor-in-Chief of Encyclopaedia Islamica.


Eduardo Manzano Moreno is a Research Professor at the Institute of History, Centre of Human and Social Sciences at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Madrid. He has an MA in Area Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and gained his Ph.D. in Medieval History from the Universidad Complutense. His research has concentrated on the history of Muslim Spain in the medieval period and the political implications of social history and memory. He has also contributed to more than twenty-five collective volumes in France, the UK, Germany and Spain, and has published around twenty research articles in Spanish and international journals. He has directed multidisciplinary international research projects. He is or has been member of editorial boards of scientific journals such as Hispaniaal-Qantara and Arqueología y Territorio Medieval and Journal of Medieval Studies. Between 2006 and 2013 was a member of the Advisory Commission of the Archaeological Site of Madināt al-Zahrāʾ.

His publications include (in collaboration with S. Pérez Garzón) Conquistadores, emires y califas. Los Omeyas y la formación de al-Andalus (Barcelona, 2007); “The Iberian Peninsula and North Africa,” in C. Robinson, ed., The New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. I (Cambridge, 2010); “Circulations de biens et richesses entre al-Andalus et l’Occident européen aux VIIIe-Xe siècles,” in Al. Feller et A. Rodriguez, eds., Objects suous contraintes. Circularion des richesses et valeur des choses (Paris, 2013); and (in collaboration with Susana Nartozki)  The hisba, the muhtasib and the struggle over political power and a moral economy: an enquiry into institutions (Leiden, 2014).


Fátima Martín Escudero is a lecturer at the Department of Historiographical Technics, Sciences and Archaeology in the Universidad Complutense, Madrid. She gained her Ph.D. cum laude in 2007, titled ‘Andalusian Numismatics: Birth and Development of a Science 18th–19th Centuries’, from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, for which she was awarded the Royal Academy of Doctors Prize. She was a researcher at the Spanish Royal Academy of History in Madrid from April 1999 until December 2004. Since 2013 she has been a member (correspondiente) of the Spanish Royal Academy of History. She has published more than 30 articles related to Andalusian coinage, monetary circulation, archaeological context and documentation, as well as to historiography. These include co-authoring Catalogue of Andalusian Coins (Royal Academy of History, 2000) and Numismatic Cabinet Documentation (Royal Academy of History, 2004); and authoring “Coins that Come and Go . . . Monetary Circulation in an Age of Changes,” in De Mahoma a Carlomagno, los primeros tiempos (siglos VII–IX), XXV Semana de Estudios Medievales de Estella (2013); “Numismatic Treasures: Much More Than Gathered Coins,” in Villa 5. Monedas altomedievales. Historia y Arqueología. Al-Andalus y Magreb. Siglos VII-XI (2015); and “Fatimid Coins within the Santa Elena Street Dinar Finding (Valencia, Spain),” in XV Congreso Internacional de Numismática (forthcoming).


Tawfiq Ibrahim is currently director in charge of al-Andalus-Tonegawa coin website. He has a BA in Economics from the University of Rhode Island (1966); a post graduate diploma in Development Administration from the London Schook of Economics, and an MA in Middle Eastern History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1971). He is a member (correspondiente) of the Spanish Royal Academy of History since 2002. Tawfiq has catalogued and studied Islamic coins since 1984. He has participated in several projects in this field, including cataloguing the large collection of Islamic coins, mostly Andalusi, at the Museo Casa de la Moneda, Madrid (1999–1999); setting up the permanent exhibition room of Andalusí coins at the Museo Casa de la Moneda, Madrid in 1998; and cataloguing the collection of Andalusi coins at the Gabinete de Antigüedades of the Spanish Royal Academy of History from 1998 to 2000. His publications include “Un dirham inédito del califa omeya de Córdoba Abd al-Rahman V al-Mustazir bi-llah, acuñado en al-Andalus, el año 414 H.,” in Numisma (1984); “Dinar of Madinat al-Mahdiyah 450 H. Struck by the Ziridinfo-icon Ruler al-Muʿizz b. Badis (406/454) in the name of the Fatimid al-Mustansir (427/487),” in Oriental Numismatic Society no. 116 (1988); “Consideraciones sobre el conflicto omeya-fatimí y las dos acuñaciones conocidas de al-Jair Ibn Muḥammad ibn Jazar al-Magrewi,” in Boletín de la Asociacion Española de Orientalistas, Madrid (1990) and, co-authored with A. Canto García and F. Martín Escudero, Monedas Andalusíes, Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid, 2000).


María Antonia Martínez Núñez is a Professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies at Malaga University. She received her Ph.D. in Arabic Philology from the Universidad de Granada (1987). Since 1994, she has been in charge of a systematic study of the epigraphy of Madīnat al-Zahrāʾ. She is a member of numerous projects related to Madīnat al-Zahrāʾ; her publications include  “La epigrafía del Salón de Abd al-Rahman III,” in A. Vallejo Triano (coord.) Madinat al-Zahra. El Salón de Abd al-Rahman III (Córdoba, 1995); “Sentido de la epigrafía omeya de al-Andalus,” in Mª J. Viguera Molins and C. Castillo (coords), El esplendor de los Omeyas cordobeses (Granada, 2001); Epigrafía árabe: Catálogo del Gabinete de Antigüedades. Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid, 2007); and Recientes hallazgos epigráficos en Madīnat al-Zahrā’ y nueva onomástica relacionada con la dār al-ṣināca califal. Anejo nº 1 Arqueología y Territorio Medieval (2015). 


Annliese Nef is an Assistant Professor at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and a member of the research team “UMR 8167 Orient et Méditerranée”. She is a specialist of the history of Islamic and Norman Sicily. Her publications include: M. Tillier and A. Nef, dir., Le polycentrisme dans l'Islam médiéval: les dynamiques régionales de l'innovationAnnales islamologiques no. 45 (2011); Conquérir et gouverner la Sicile islamique aux XIe et XIIe siècles (Rome, 2011); A. Nef, dir., A Companion to Medieval Palermo. The History of a Mediterranean City from 600 to 1500 (Leiden, 2013); A. Nef and P. Cressier, eds., “Les Fatimides et la Méditerranée Centrale Xe-XIIe siècle,” in Journal of Islamic Archaeology 2.2 (2015) and in Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée no. 139 (2016).


David Bramoullé is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès. He gained his Ph.D. from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in 2001 with the thesis, ‘Les Fatimides et la mer (341–567/953–1171) du rêve mystique à l’empire du large’, under the supervision of Prof. Christophe Picard (forthcoming with Brill). After three years in the Middle East (Beirut, Jerusalem), Bramoullé started a Ph.D. on the Fatimids, focusing on their relations with the sea from a classical point of view, and examining the economical and ideological aspects of their relations with the sea, using the Arabic sources as well as the Geniza letters. His current research focuses on the use of the Geniza letters in order to have a better understanding of the inner structure of the Fatimid administration and to look at the links between Fatimid Egypt and Africa, Europe and Asia. His publications include: “The Fatimids and the Red Sea (969–1171),” in D. Agius, J. P. Cooper, A. Trakadas, C. Zazzaro, eds., Navigated Spaces, Connected PlacesProceedings of the Red Sea V Conference (Oxford, 2012); “Les Fatimides d’Égypte et la Sicile,” in F. Ardizzone et A. Nef, eds., Les dynamiques de l'Islamisation en Méditerranée centrale et en Sicile: nouvelles propositions et découvertes récentes (Edipuglia, 2014); “L’émirat de Barqa et les Fatimides: les enjeux de la navigation en Méditerranée centrale au XIe siècle,” in A. Nef and P. Cressier, eds., Les Fatimides et la Méditerranée Centrale, Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée, no. 139 (2016); and “Financer l’activité navale fatimide en Égypte (973–1171): contraintes financières et enjeux politico-économiques,” in Revue d’Histoire Maritime (forthcoming).


Marina Rustow is a social historian of the mediaeval Middle East, who works with a relatively neglected type of source: mediaeval documents, especially sources from the Cairo Geniza, a cache of more than 300,000 folio pages preserved in an Egyptian synagogue. She also works with some Arabic papyri and paper documents. Most of her research has centred on Egypt and Syria from the tenth century to the fifteenth, with occasional forays into Europe and modernity.

Her work has lately centered around a set of related questions: what makes social and religious groups cohere and fragment; how people demanded justice from the state and facilitated or resisted its extraction of resources; how written documents structured the exercise of power and the creation and maintenance of social bonds; and how reconstructing the concrete details of medieval life demand of the historian the rigorous rather than fanciful use of the imagination. She has also developed a fascination with decoding the graphic and semiotic features of documents, and with how medieval people did so.

She is currently writing a book on Fatimid state documents preserved in the Geniza. These are some of our best sources for understanding how medieval Islamic states governed their subjects, and how states balanced two essential requirements that were often in tension with one another: the extraction of resources and the provision of justice. The physical features of state documents—many of which were later recycled as scrap paper—also have the potential to solve the longstanding problem of the dearth of archives from the pre-Ottoman Middle East. She published a pilot article on the subject in BSOAS in 2010, and a pilot collaborative study in 2011. Her publications include: “A Petition to a Woman at the Fatimid Court (413–414 A.H./1022–23 C.E.),” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 73 (2010); “The Legal Status of Dimmī-s in the Fatimid East: A View from the Palace in Cairo,” in M. Fierro and J. Tolan eds., The Legal Status of Dimmī-s in the Islamic West in the Middle Ages (Turnhout, 2013); “Patronage in the Context of Solidarity and Reciprocity: Two Paradigms of Social Cohesion in the Premodern Mediterranean,” in M. E. Alfonso and J. Decter eds., Patronage, Production and Transmission: Books in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Cultures (Turnhout, 2014); “The Diplomatics of Leadership: Administrative Documents in Hebrew Script from the Cairo Geniza,” in A. Franklin, R. E. Margariti, M. Rustow and U. Simonsohn eds., Jews, Christians and Muslims in Medieval and Early Modern Times: A Festschrift in Honor of Mark R. Cohen (Leiden, 2014). 


Isabel Toral-Niehoff is a Senior Researcher at the EDRIS (Education and Religion) Research Centre in Göttingen since 2014. She studied History, Islamic and Arabic Studies in Tübingen (Ph.D. 1997) and worked on Greek-Arabic Magic: Kitāb ǦiranīsDie arabische Übersetzung der ersten Kyranis des Hermes Trismegistos und die griechischen Parallelen (2004)She received her Habilitation in 2008 at the Free University Berlin, published as: Al-Ḥīra. Eine arabische Kulturmetropole im spätantiken Kontext (Brill, 2014). Since 1997, she has held various research positions and fellowships in Freiburg, Berlin, London and Göttingen since 1997. Her main research fields are Arabia and the Near East in Late Antiquity; cultural identity; Arabic Occult Sciences; adabinfo-icon, fiction, encyclopaedias and al-Andalus. 


Antonio Vallejo Triano is a specialist in Islamic archaeology. He was the Director of Madīnat al-Zahrāʾ Archaeological Site, Madīnat al-Zahrāʾ Museum, and the Madīnat al-Zahrāʾ excavations from 1985 to 2013, and author together with  Manuel Acién of the museological concept and programming of the Madīnat al-Zahrāʾ Museum which won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2010 (with Nieto Sobejano Architects). Since 2013, he has been the permanent technical advisor of the Fine Art Museum of Córdoba, Spain. He is a tenured public servant by competitive examination at the Historical Heritage Curatorship Unit of the Regional Government of Andalucia. His Ph.D. from the University of Jaén, with the thesis ‘The Caliphal City of Madinat al-Zahra: Archaeology from its Architecture,’ was awarded cum laude in 2003. He was lecturer of Medieval Art History, University of Cordoba in 2012-2013. He has much experience in the management of the archaeological heritage: as Representative of the Comisión Andaluza de Arqueología (2003–2009); Advisory Board Member of the World Heritage of Alhambra & Generalife, Granada, Spain (1995-1999); Director of the journal Cuadernos de Madinat al-Zahra (1987–2013); Editorial Board Member of the journal Arqueología y Territorio Medieval (Universidad de Jaén); and as Co-director of the Research Project Arqueología en la almunia al-Rummaniyya, Córdoba, (2006–2014). He was invited by the Victoria & Albert Museum to catalogue Umayyad caliphal archaeological material, 2014–2015. His publications include: (coord.) Madinat al-Zahra. El Salón de Abd al-Rahman III (1995); Madinat al-Zahra. Official guide of the archaeological site (editions in English, Arabic and Spanish, 2005); La ciudad califal de Madinat al-Zahra. Arqueología de su excavación (2010); and with P. Cressier, Madinat al-Zahra et Sabra al-Mansuriyya: deux versions d´un même scénario (2015).


Paul E. Walker is Deputy Director for Academic Programs, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. He was the Director of the American Research Center in Cairo for over ten years (1976–86). . As a specialist in the history of Islamic thought, he has published dozens of papers and over a dozen books, among them Early Philosophical Shiism: The Ismaili Neoplatonism of Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī (Cambridge, 1993); Exploring an Islamic Empire: Fatimid History and Its Sources (London, 2002); Fatimid History and Ismaili Doctrine (Ashgate, Variorum, 2008); and Caliph of Cairo: al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, 996–1021 (Cairo, 2009). His current research focuses on popular ritual, governing institutions, and Ismaili doctrine in the Fatimid period. 


Discussant Biographies


Carmela Baffioni is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. She is a correspondent member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, of the Academia Europaea, and of the Academie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences, and a founder member of the Section of Arabic Studies in the branch of Near Eastern Studies of the Accademia Ambrosiana (Milan). Until 2012 she served as full Professor of History of Islamic Philosophy at the Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”. Her publications include studies on the transmission of Greek thought into Islam and the Latin re-elaborations of Arabic heritage; on al-Kindī, al-Farābī, Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī, Ibn Sīnā, Ibn Rushd; on Ismaili thinkers such as Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī and Ḥamīd al-Dīn al-Kirmānī; and on the philosophy of nature, atomism, and embryology.

The Ikhwān al-Safāʾ are her main field of research. Her publications include numerous books on them; at the Institute of Ismaili Studies she has written for  the collection ‘Epistles of the Brethren of Purity’: On Logic. An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistles 10–14 (2010) and On Natural Sciences. An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistles 15–21 (2013). She has also prepared the editions and translations of Epistles 39, 40 and 50.


Doris Behrens-Abouseif is Professor Emerita, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She has degrees from the American University in Cairo and the Universities of Hamburg and Freiburg. From 2000 to 2014 she was Nasser D Khalili Chair of Islamic Art and Archaeology at SOAS, and has taught formerly at the American University in Cairo, the universities of Freiburg and Munich in Germany and held several visiting professorships in the US and Europe. Her list of publications covers a wide range of subjects from the early period to the 19th century with focus on Egypt and Syria: The history of Islamic architecture, decorative arts and material culture, urbanism, waqf (pious endowments), Islamic cultural history, concepts of aesthetics and Orientalism. Her publications include: Beauty in Arabic Culture (Princeton 1999); Cairo of the Mamluks (London/Cairo 2007); Practicing Diplomacy in the Mamluk Sultanateinfo-icon: Gifts and Material Culture in the Medieval Islamic World (London 2014).


Sarah Bowen Savant is an Associate Professor at the Aga Khan University - Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations; She has an MA from the  University of Chicago (1998) and a Ph.D. from Harvard University (2006). Her publications include The New Muslims of Post-Conquest Iran: Tradition, Memory, and Conversion (Cambridge, 2013), winner of the Saidi-Sirjani Book Award given by the International Society for Iranian Studies on behalf of the Persian Heritage Foundation; (with H. de Felipe, eds.,) Genealogy and Knowledge in Muslim Societies: Understanding the Past (Edinburgh, 2014); Guest editor, with Konrad Hirschler, of Der Islam 1 (2014). “What’s In a Period? Arabic Historiography and Periodization” including contributions from the “Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiography” workshop, sponsored by SOAS and AKU-ISMC and an introduction by the editors; and The Excellence of the Arabs. A Translation of Ibn Qutaybah’s Faḍl al-ʿArab wa l-tanbīh ʿalā ʿulūmihā. Translated with Peter Webb (Abu Dhabi, 2017).


Farhad Daftary is currently Co-Director of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, where he has also been the Head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications since 1992. He completed his early and secondary education in Tehran, Rome, and London, before going to Washington, D.C., in 1958. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the American University there, and then continued his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, leading to a Ph.D. degree in 1971. Subsequently, Dr. Daftary held different teaching posts, and, since 1988, he has been affiliated with The Institute of Ismaili Studies.

An authority in Shiʿi studies, with special reference to its Ismaili tradition, Farhad Daftary has published and lectured widely in these fields of Islamic studies. In 2011 a Festschrift entitled Fortresses of the Intellect was produced to honour Dr. Daftary by a number of his colleagues and peers. As well as serving on various editorial boards, he is a consulting editor of the Encyclopaedia Iranica (for Ismailism), co-editor (with W. Madelung) of the Encyclopaedia Islamica, and general editor of the “Ismaili Heritage Series”, the “Ismaili Texts and Translations Series” and the “Shiʿi Heritage Series”.

He has written more than 200 articles and encyclopaedia entries and several acclaimed books, including The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines (1990; 2nd ed., 2007); The Assassin Legends (1994); A Short History of the Ismailis (1998); and Ismaili Literature (2004). Dr. Daftary’s books have been translated into Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Uyghur, Urdu, Gujarati, Chinese, Indonesian and numerous European languages. 


Delia Cortese is a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, Middlesex University, London. Her teaching experience includes designing and delivering courses on the Muslim World, Islam and Gender, and World Religions. She is currently planning a new course on the family in Islam and Muslim societies. Her recent public engagement activities include collaborations with the Smithsonian Channel and BBC Radio 3. Recently, she also delivered public lectures on women and textiles in Fatimid Egypt and on women in the social history of medieval Egypt at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ismaili Centre in Toronto. She is a member of several international associations such as MESA, UEAI and MEM and is regularly invited to be a peer reviewer for papers and projects dealing with pre-modern Islamic world. Her main area of research is medieval Islam, particularly Ismaili and Fatimid studies. She is currently working on Sunnism as well as the environmental history in Egypt during the Fatimid period.

Her books include (with S. Calderini) Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam (Edimburgh, 2006); her recent articles include “Voices of the silent majority: the transmission of Sunnī learning in Fāṭimī Egypt,” in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 39 (2012); “The Architectural Patronage of the Fāṭimid Queen-Mother Durzān (d. 385/995): An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Literary Sources, Material Evidence and Historical Context,” in D.Talmon-Heller and K.Cytryn-Silverman eds., Material Evidence and Narrative Sources, Interdisciplinary Studies of the History of the Muslim Middle East (Leiden, 2014); and (with S.Calderini) “The Nile: Its Role in the Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Fatimid Dynasty During its Rule of Egypt (969–1171),” in History Compass no. 13(2015).


Mohammed Hamdouni Alami is a Research Associate in the Archaeological Research Facility at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). He was born and educated in Fez, Morocco. He received his Ph.D. in Art History/Archaeology of the Near East from the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). As well as teaching, first in France, and then in Morocco, he has also practiced as an architect. For several years he ran a studio at the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture.

Mohammed’s work has spanned in two major directions. On the one hand, he has pursued a consistent political involvement in urban planning and the study of social policies of space. In Morocco he participated as a consultant in several studies of urban planning. He published two (co-authored) books on Informal Housing and City Planning: Urbanisation et gestion urbaine au Maroc (1986)and Habitat clandestin au Maroc (1992)In 2005 he contributed to an official report “Gestion Urbaine et Accès aux Services de Base” to the Rapport sur le développement humain du cinquantenaire de l’indépendance. After the devastating 2004 earthquake in northern Morocco, he started a project on seismic codes for earthen architecture, which resulted in the adoption by Morocco of a Building Code for Earthen Construction (2011).

At the same time, he has a classical art history focus, from an empirical and a philosophical point of view within the context of Medieval and Renaissance European art. His recent work on Islamic art and architecture includes the publication of Art and Architecture in the Islamic Tradition (London, 2010), and The Origins of Visual Culture in the Islamic World (London, 2015).


Hugh Kennedy is Professor of Arabic at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His most recent monographs are In the Court of the Caliphs (2004) The Great Arab Conquests 2007) and The Caliphate (2016).


Stephane Pradines is an Associate Professor at the Aga Khan University - Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations; He is an archaeologist specialising in the Middle East and East Africa. Prior to joining AKU-ISMC in 2012 he was in charge of Islamic Archaeology at the French Institute in Cairo from 2001 to 2012. He completed his Ph.D. in Islamic Archaeology from Sorbonne University, Paris IV in 2001. He has been a Lecturer in Islamic Archaeology at Cairo University and created the First Field School of Islamic Archaeology in Egypt. His fieldwork includes the direction of Excavations of the Fatimid and Ayyubid Walls of Cairo, Excavations of Kilwa, Swahili medieval harbour of Tanzania and of Gedi, Swahili medieval harbour of Kenya and more recently Excavation of Dembeni (Mayotte, French Comoros). He is also an Associate researcher with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée, APIM programme; member of the Editorial Board, Islamic Archaeological Studies Journal, Islamic Art Museum, Cairo; member of the Editorial Board & Book review editor of the Journal of Islamic Archaeology;  member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Dominican Institute, MIDEO, Cairo. Dr Pradines is in charge of two research programmes and two main international excavations: Warfare in Medieval Middle East (Fatimid & Ayyubid Walls of Cairo) and Islam, Trade & Indian Ocean Cultures. His publications include Fortifications et urbanisation en Afrique orientale (Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology, 2004); and Gedi, une cité portuaire swahilie. Islam médiéval en Afrique orientale (Monograph of the French Institute of Archaeology, 2010).


Wafi Momin is Head of Ismaili Special Collections Unit (ISCU). He has the overall managerial responsibility for the Institute’s collections of special materials, their development and preservation, as well as conceptualising and overseeing various research projects and educational activities pertaining to these materials. Previously serving as Keeper of Ismaili Collections, he is also leading the project of systematic cataloguing, analysis and preservation of the IIS’ collection of Khojkiinfo-icon and Gujarati manuscripts, which record and transmit a variety of literary genres, the most prominent among them being the Ginans, composed in languages as diverse as Gujarati, Hindi/Hindustani, Sindhi, Punjabi with loan-words from Arabic, Persian and other languages.

Wafi obtained Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, with his primary research having focused on the historical formation of the Satpanth Ismaili tradition and issues pertaining to religious interactions in the South Asian context.


Contact Us

For further information or to register please email Naushin Shariff at nshariff@iis.ac.uk