College of Arts and Sciences

Renaissance Studies


Evrim Binbaş (Universität Bonn, Germany)
Sovereignty as a Work of Art: The Debates on Political Authority in Fifteenth Century Iran and Central Asia (poster PDF)
Thursday, February 28, 2019, 4pm
Dogwood Room, Indiana Memorial Union

The talk will be followed by a roundtable featuring IU’s Paul Losensky (Comparative Literature), Winnifred Fallers Sullivan (Religious Studies), and Andrew Archey (History).

Abstract: Recent debates on the concept of sovereignty in the early modern period have reminded us of the importance of politics and constitutional ideas for changes in intellectual and cultural life. In the Islamic context of fifteenth century Iran and Central Asia, intellectual life was clustered around certain regions with strong urban cultural centers, such as Herat, Shiraz, or Khwarazm, and they were connected to each other by strong informal and formal intellectual networks. The intellectual activity in these regional centers was supported by the corporate dynastic politics and the appanage system of the Timurid polity. This lecture will contribute to the ongoing debates on sovereignty by focusing on the competing ideas of sovereignty and different constitutional principles that emerged from this very process of competition of the regional centers and appanages. It will show how these ideas were integral to the development of a vibrant Timurid intellectual and cultural life. Timurid intellectuals formulated novel approaches to sovereignty by combining various strains of intellectual thought and practice. This paper will argue that interregional competition, far from being the product of dynastic power struggles between competing appanage holders, was indeed a reflection of competing notions of sovereignty expressed in the language of contractualism and eschatological absolutism, among other constitutional paradigms.

Evrim Binbaş’s visit is made possible through the support of the College Arts and Humanities Institute, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Islamic Studies Program, the Sinor Research Institute, the Department of Central Eurasian Studies, and the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center. The event will be followed by a reception.