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Early Hafsid Tunis – Capital of the Caliphate
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2/13/2018 to 2/14/2018
When: Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Where: Tunisia

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Symposium Title: Early Hafsid Tunis – Capital of the Caliphate

Conveners: Dr. Allen Fromherz (AIMS President), Dr. Laryssa Chomiak (CEMAT Director) and Dr. Meriem Guetat (CEMAT Assistant Director)

CEMAT (Le Centre d'Etudes Maghrébines à Tunis) and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS) are pleased to announce a scholarly symposium scheduled for Feb 13-14, 2018 entitled “Early Hafsid Tunis – Capital of the Caliphate.” The purpose of this symposium will be to study the history the Hafsid Caliphate under Muhammad I al Mustansir and to further research on the social, cultural and religious diversity of Tunis under the Hafsid Caliphate. This symposium aims to focus on North African and Hafsid sources and what they reveal about the North African perspective on this crucial period of Tunis history and the history of the Central Mediterranean. What are some of the most important North African sources and how can these sources change our understanding of the Hafsids and the Eighth Crusade? Muhammad I al Mustansir (r. 1249-1277 CE) was the first Hafsid ruler to proclaim the caliphate. What was the meaning of the Hafsid Caliphate? Why was it proclaimed? What new sources and methods can we use to understand the Hafsid Caliphate and the Thirteenth Century Mediterranean, especially from a North African perspective?  How was the Caliphate represented in iconography, numismatics and in historical sources? How was the Caliphate written into the architectural history and art of the Hafsids and into the city of Tunis itself? What was the nature of interactions between majority and minority groups, foreigners and merchants, mendicants and Sufis, during the early Hafsid Caliphate and how were these interactions influenced by events such as the Eighth Crusade? How did these interactions occur “on the ground” within the capital of the Caliphate in Tunis? How did outside Muslim powers view the Hafsid claim to the Caliphate? What was the legacy of the Hafsid Caliphate after Muhammad al Mustansir’s proclamation and how was it remembered in later sources, including, for instance, the work of Ibn Khaldun? We encourage studies derived from historical chronologies and legal sources as well as art, archaeology and architectural history. While all scholars are welcome, we especially welcome submissions from North African graduate students at the dissertation stage and early-career scholars. Please submit an abstract of your paper by January 2, 2018 to Dr. Allen Fromherz at or We will email decisions by January 5. Although papers can be presented in English, French and Arabic, all participants will be asked to provide a copy of their paper (translated to English) for submission to JNAS (Journal or North African Studies) or possibly a separate edited volume by Edinburgh University Press. Due to the tight schedule, working papers or works in progress will be allowed. That said, original papers, not previous work or work that is already under contract for publication, will be accepted and participants will be expected to submit their finalized work for publication at a later date to be determined at the Symposium. Participants will be asked to allow themselves to be recorded as a podcast for use by CEMAT and AIMS. Expenses in Tunis will be covered for accepted applications. In some instances, especially in the case of North African scholars, we will be able to cover cost of flight to Tunis. Please indicate your need for funding along with your abstract and also the location of the start of your flight to Tunis.




February 13, 2018: Symposium (Introduction. 3 panels of 3 papers each/ 20 minutes each panel in morning with discussion, lunch break, 3 papers in afternoon, visit archives/Library late afternoon). Podcasts recorded and simultaneous translation provided.


Feb. 14, 2018: Excursion (Zaghouan Aqueduct and/or possibly Sidi Qacem Zawiya and Midha al Sultana and Suq al Qumash or other Hafsid sites.)

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