History of Islamic Civilization

Professor: Marco Di Branco
Language: English/Arabic
Hours: 60 hr (+20 hr of tutoring)

This course gives an insight into the Middle East history from pre-Islamic times to the establishment of Ottoman Empire. It traces the development of the Islamic societies, with particular attention to the plurality of cultures comprised in the Islamic world. It seeks to juxtapose several historical narratives: the political, the economic, the social, and the cultural ones in order to provide a broad conceptualization of the pre-modern history of the area. In addition to contemporary studies, primary sources are used(both literary and epigraphical texts). We will explore specific themes including the institutional and spiritual formations of Muslim political structures, literary creations of Islamic civilization, war and conquest, travel and trade. A very important section of the course will be dedicated to the history of Morocco and of the city of Fes. Among other issues, we will discuss:

- How did the Middle East become Islamic? To what extent did the Islamic forms of government, social organizations, and culture represent continuity or discontinuity with already existing conditions in the territories where Islam spread?

- Is there a worldwide unity of Islamic culture? At what point can we speak of a unified Islamic civilization? On what basis? What are the points of regional variation in the Islamic world?

- How do people view themselves and their societies? What are the categories (social, religious, legal political etc.) creating the fabric of everyday life?

- How important are historical legacies to understand our present days?