The Shīʿah Institute Annual Symposium 2016 – Call for Papers


Lamenting Karbala: Commemoration, Mourning, and Memory

 31 August–2 September 2016, The Warburg Institute, University of London

This three day international symposium convened by the Shīʿah Institute will address one of the perennial issues in the Shīʿah tradition, namely the martyrdom of Imām Ḥusayn and his companions at Karbala in 680 AD, and explore across disciplinary boundaries how this cataclysmic event in Islamic history has been figured in discourse and ritual, and subsequently mourned and commemorated for over 1300 years.

Its commemoration has been interpreted and performed in a plethora of diverse and distinct ways in manifold times and places, from Iraq, Iran, and the Levant, to Central and South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, and far beyond. While countless scholars have sought to explain Karbala’s cosmic significance and the religious obligation to commemorate ʿĀshūrāh, as well as pilgrimage to the third Imām’s shrine, a great many cultures have assimilated and incorporated this sacred event into their own living traditions and identities in creative and unexpected ways. The Shīʿah Institute’s Annual Symposium will strive to capture the profound and variegated nature of this rich and plurivocal heritage.

This symposium endeavours to examine the discourses and ritual practice relevant to Imām Ḥusayn’s martyrdom, its commemoration and remembrance in the areas of classical, medieval, and modern theology and eschatology; comparative religion; ‘popular’ versus ‘high’ religion; historiography; devotional and hagiographical literature (dirge, epic, poetry, elegy) and its vernacularisation; theatrical depictions and performance of the scenes of Karbala in Iran and Iraq and replicas of the shrines in South Asia (taʿziyah); ritual practice and sartorial traditions; pilgrimage (ziyārah) and issues of divine intercession; architecture, and sacred space (shrines, takiyyah, ḥusayniyyah); gender and gendering imagery and practices; murals; painting; film; and questions of material culture more broadly. In this way the Shīʿah Institute aims to convene a symposium that is comprehensive in scope and multi-disciplinary in approach in furtherance of the academic study of Shīʿah Islam.

Please send a 300 word abstract and short biography to [email protected] by 1 April 2016.

Limited funding will be available to support the travel expenses of successful applicants. Papers selected will also form part of the Shīʿah Institute’s symposia series, which is published as an edited volume on an annual basis.

Because of the sheer number of submissions, only successful applicants will be contacted once abstracts have been reviewed and assessed.