The lecture is a part of lecture series entitled Devlet and Divan: Mystical and State Authorities in Early Modernity organized by CEMS junior members.
Abstract: The Abbasid caliph lost doctrinal and political authority in the ninth century, yet it survived until the thirteenth century Mongol invasion. Why? To answer this question, I examine the agency of Turkic Inner Asian dynasties in molding the institution of the caliphate, transforming it into an institution immense ritual and iconic significance—a “relic” of sovereignty in the serious sense of the word. By paying attention to this transformation, we can identify hitherto unexamined processes of religious and political change in the late medieval and early modern Islamic world.
Azfar Moin is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on the history of the pre-modern Islamic world from comparative perspectives with a focus on concepts and practices of sovereignty. His book The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam (2012) won the Best First Book in the History of Religions Award from the American Academy of Religion, John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History from the American Historical Association, and an Honorable Mention for the Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize (South Asia) from the Association for Asian Studies.