Exploring Ismaili History: Walking in the footsteps of the Fatimids

Exploring Ismaili History: Walking in the Footsteps of the Fatimidsinfo-icon

Course dates:
8 October – 12 October 2022
Application deadline:
21 March 2022
Programme fees:
Programme venue:
Mahdiyya, Tunisia
Course director:
Dr Shainool Jiwa

About the course

This field-based course offers a unique opportunity to learn about Fatimid history, culture and architectural heritage, as well as experience some of the major developments shaping present-day Tunisia. The course, taking place in Tunisia, will include interactive guided tours and presentations over five days. The programme will be led by specialist faculty from the IIS and field specialists in Tunisia. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the key Fatimid monuments in Mahdiyya, the first purpose-built Fatimid capital city, and its surrounding regions. They will also learn about the dynamics that led to the founding of the Fatimids as a 10th-Century Mediterranean empire which flourished for over two centuries (909-1171 CE) across large areas of the Muslim world.


Aims of the programme

  • Expose participants to the rich intellectual and architectural heritage of the Ismailis during the Fatimid period and germinate an understanding of the role of art, architecture and literature in the shaping of Muslim civilisations, historically and in present times.
  • Initiate an experiential and informed understanding of a major period and region that is significant in Ismaili history, while also gleaning the key challenges and opportunities that prevail in contemporary Tunisia.
  • Introduce participants to the major figures and developments that have shaped Ismaili history, thought and practice in Fatimid North Africa (present-day Tunisia and north-west Algeria) and to contextualise these as a part of the larger mosaic of Muslim traditions and heritage.
  • Facilitate the development of critical, analytical analytical and historical skills, and an understanding of the relationship between the past and the present, and how these inform our beliefs, interpretations and values today.


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