Devin DeWeese is the Central Asia Visiting Professor in September 2016
Devin DeWeese, Indiana University Bloomington, is the Central Asia Visiting Professor between 5-17 September 2016. Professor DeWeese will deliver a guest lecture on Monday, 12 September (Lipsius 148, 3pm) and a masterclass on Friday, 16 September within the Central Asia initiative at Leiden University.
- Devin DeWeese
- Lecture: 12 September From ‘the Scourge of Sinners’ to ‘the Man who Called us Infidels:’ Perspectives on Islamization in 14th-Century Central Asia
- Masterclass: 16 September Approaches to Islamization in the post-Mongol era
Devin DeWeese is a professor of Islamic and Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.
He received his PhD in 1985 at Indiana University, and since then has continued to do research on Central Asian Islam, particularly Sufism and its political and social dimensions. He has published major studies of Central Asian religion and history using Persian, Arabic and Turkic manuscript sources he has painstakingly accumulated from collections all over the world. Until 2007, he served as the Director of the Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2006.
His work is widely acknowledged for its importance in Central Asian studies because his precise analysis of manuscript sources helps understand the motivations of the authors of these texts, and places them within the cultural contexts of the manuscript traditions. He is one of a small group of scholars, including Jürgen Paul, Adeeb Khalid, Robert D. McChesney, Jo-Ann Gross, Ashirbek Muminov, Maria Subtelny, Beatrice Forbes Manz, and Stéphane A. Dudoignon, who have worked seriously to debunk prevailing essentialist and ahistorical stereotypes about Sufism, Islam, and politics in the history of Central Asia. Like a very few Central Asian scholars before them, these experts work with equal facility on Arabic, Persian and Turkic, but have also developed working methods that understand concepts and practices of Islam and Islamic communities on the believers' own terms, rather than through biased and invariant concepts.
His most well-known work is Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde: Baba Tükles and Conversion to Islam in Historical and Epic Tradition, published in 1994. Called "a truly groundbreaking work" and "an epic book" that has "opened up whole new vistas onto the religious landscape of the Mongol empire and post-Chingizid Inner Asia", the book examines a narrative of Uzbeg Khan's conversion to Islam in the 14th century. It also examines pre-Islamic religious life in Inner Asia, the use of narratives as foundational myths, and the role of Islam and conversion in identity formation. The work won the Albert Hourani Book Award in 1995, and has received praise from many scholars.
Islamic Central Asia, Soviet Central Asia, Sufism, Islamization, religions and Inner Asia, and Islamic hagiography
Islamization and Sacred Lineages in Central Asia: The Legacy of Ishaq Bab in Narrative and Genealogical Traditions, Vol. I: Opening the Way for Islam: The Ishaq Bab Narrative, 14th-19th Centuries / Islamizatsiia i sakral’nye rodoslovnye v Tsentral’noi Azii: Nasledie Iskhak Baba v narrativnoi i genealogicheskoi traditsiiakh, Tom 1: Otkrytie puti dlia islama: rasskaz ob Iskhak Babe, XIV-XIX vv. (with Ashirbek Muminov, Durbek Rahimjanov, and Shavasil Ziyadov, and an appendix by Alfrid Bustanov) (Almaty: Daik-Press, 2013).
Studies on Sufism in Central Asia, Variorum Collected Studies reprint series (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012), Studies on Sufism in Central Asia, Variorum Collected Studies reprint series (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012).
“It was a Dark and Stagnant Night (’til the Jadids Brought the Light): Clichés, Biases, and False Dichotomies in the Intellectual History of Central Asia,” for Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 59/1-2 (2016), pp. 37-92.
“Muslims and Infidel Nomads in Timurid Central Asia: Four Stories from the Religious Frontiers of Mawarannahr in the 14th and 15th Centuries,” in Central Eurasia in the Middle Ages: Studies in Honour of Peter B. Golden, ed. István Zimonyi and Osman Karatay (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016; Turcologica, Band 104), pp. 91-102.
“Chaghatay Literature in the Early Sixteenth Century: Notes on Turkic Translations from the Uzbek Courts of Mawarannahr,” in Turkish Language, Literature, and History: Travelers’ Tales, Sultans, and Scholars since the Eighth Century (A Volume of Studies in Honor of Robert Dankoff), ed. Bill Hickman and Gary Leiser (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 99-117.
“Khāns and Amīrs in the Qalandar-nāma of Abū Bakr Rūmī: Praise of the Islamizing Jochid Elite in a Persian Sufi Work from Fourteenth-Century Crimea,” Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi, 21 (2014-2015 = Festschrift for Thomas T. Allsen in Celebration of His 75th Birthday, ed. P. B. Golden, R. K. Kovalev, A. P. Martinez, J. Skaff, and A. Zimonyi [Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2015]), pp. 53-66.
“Telling Women’s Stories in 16th-Century Central Asia: A Book of Guidance in Chaghatay Turkic for a Royal Lady of the Bukharan Court,” Oriens, 43/1-2 (2015), pp. 154-222.
“A Sixteenth-Century Interpretation of the Islamization of the Mongols Attributed to Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī,” for Mawlana Rumi Review, 5 (2014), pp. 88-105.
“Shamanization in Central Asia,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 57 (2014), pp. 326-363.
“ʻAlāʼ al-Dawla Simnānī’s Religious Encounters at the Mongol Court near Tabriz,” in Politics, Patronage and the Transmission of Knowledge in 13th-15th Century Tabriz, ed. Judith Pfeiffer (Leiden: Brill, 2014), pp. 35-76.
“Intercessory Claims of Ṣūfī Communities during the 14th and 15th Centuries: ‘Messianic’ Legitimizing Strategies on the Spectrum of Normativity,” in Unity in Diversity: Mysticism, Messianism and the Construction of Religious Authority in Islam, ed. Orkhan Mir-Kasimov (Leiden: Brill, 2014), pp. 197-219.
“Aḥmad Yasavī in the Work of Burhān al-Dīn Qïlïch: The Earliest Reference to a Famously Obscure Central Asian Sufi Saint,” Asiatische Studien/Études asiatiques (Bern), 67/3 (2013), pp. 837-879.
“The Yasavī Presence in the Dasht‑i Qïpchaq from the 16th to 18th Century,” in Islam, Society and States across the Qazaq Steppe, 18th-Early 20th Centuries, ed. Niccolò Pianciola and Paolo Sartori (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2013; Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Sitzungsberichte, 844. Band), pp. 27-67.
“Sacred Descent and Sufi Legitimation in a Genealogical Text from Eighteenth-Century Central Asia: The Sharaf Atāʼī Tradition in Khwārazm,” in Sayyids and Sharifs in Muslim Societies: The Living Links to the Prophet, ed. Morimoto Kazuo (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 210-230.
“‘Dis-ordering’ Sufism in Early Modern Central Asia: Suggestions for Rethinking the Sources and Social Structures of Sufi History in the 18th and 19th Centuries,” in History and Culture of Central Asia/Istoriia i kul’tura Tsentral’noi Azii, ed. Bakhtiyar Babadjanov and Kawahara Yayoi (Tokyo: The University of Tokyo, 2012), pp. 259-279.
“The ‘Competitors’ of Isḥāq Khwāja in Eastern Turkistan: Hagiographies, Shrines, and Sufi Affiliations in the Late Sixteenth Century,” in Horizons of the World: Festschrift for Isenbike Togan/Hududü’l-Alem: İsenbike Togan’a Armağan, ed. İlker Evrim Binbaş and Nurten Kılıç-Schubel (Istanbul: İthaki Press, 2011), pp. 133-215.
“Survival Strategies: Reflections on the Notion of Religious ‘Survivals’ in Soviet Ethnographic Studies of Muslim Religious Life in Central Asia,” in Exploring the Edge of Empire: Soviet Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia , ed. Florian Mühlfried and Sergey Sokolovskiy (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2011 [published January 2012]; Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia, vol. 25), pp. 35-58.
“Ahmad Yasavi and the Divan-i Hikmat in Soviet Scholarship,” in The Heritage of Soviet Oriental Studies, ed. Michael Kemper and Stephan Conermann (London/New York: Routledge, 2011), pp. 262-290.
Lecture: 12 September From ‘the Scourge of Sinners’ to ‘the Man who Called us Infidels:’ Perspectives on Islamization in 14th-Century Central Asia
2311 BE Leiden
The lecture is open to the public and free of charge.
Several sources from the 14th and 15th centuries include, in their accounts of important events of their time, a brief mention of the killing of a religious scholar of Herat, named Niẓām al-Dīn Haravī, by a group of nomadic Turks, or their leader alone, in 1337. The accounts disagree on the particulars that led to Niẓām al‑Dīn’s death, but they agree that this incident was what we might fairly call a case of religiously-motivated violence, and they agree further that his killing had more to do with the victim’s own religious and intellectual profile than with that of the nomads. His religious and intellectual profile is in fact explicitly discussed, or alluded to, in some of the accounts, and there is some other evidence about it as well, beyond the context of his death, not in the form of any of his own writings or recorded discourses—nothing of the sort has survived or yet been discovered—but in the form of allusions in other sources, again quite brief, to some prominent figures who were his religious and intellectual opponents. The evidence we can find on the antagonism between Niẓām al‑Dīn and other learned Muslims with different views is in itself instructive about the religious diversity of Muslim Central Asia in a period that is sometimes framed in terms of a monolithic Muslim world confronting the challenge of Mongol rule; that same evidence, indeed, helps remind us of the ways in which the process of Islamizing the Mongol rulers, and the nomads on whom their power rested, fostered tensions within Muslim society regarding matters of religious propriety and the obligations entailed by conversion. More broadly, however, both the positive evidence, and the religious and intellectual profile we can suggest for Niẓām al‑Dīn on the basis of the better-known figures with whom he found fault, allow us to situate Niẓām al‑Dīn on the spectrum of Muslim religious thought in a way that renders the accounts of his death surprisingly revealing with regard to the course of Islamization in the Mongol and Timurid eras. The present lecture will explore Niẓām al‑Dīn’s religious stance, as an exercise in reconstructing an intellectual profile in part on the basis of what it was not, and will outline the shifting versions of the story of Niẓām al-Dīn’s death, as an exercise in extracting lessons about the process of Islamization from accounts that say nothing at all about it.
2311 BE Leiden
The masterclass will be on "Approaches to Islamization in the post-Mongol era". The class is open to MA/MA research and PhD students.
If you would like to attend, please contact Elena Paskaleva at: firstname.lastname@example.org before 14 September 2016.
Readings for the masterclass
(1) “Muslims and Infidel Nomads in Timurid Central Asia: Four Stories from the Religious Frontiers of Mawarannahr in the 14th and 15th Centuries,” in Central Eurasia in the Middle Ages: Studies in Honour of Peter B. Golden, ed. István Zimonyi and Osman Karatay ( Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016; Turcologica, Band 104), pp. 91-102.
(2) “A Sixteenth-Century Interpretation of the Islamization of the Mongols Attributed to Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī,” for Mawlana Rumi Review, 5 (2014), pp. 88-105.
(3) “‘Stuck in the Throat of Chingīz Khān:’ Envisioning the Mongol Conquests in Some Sufi Accounts from the 14th to 17th Centuries,” in History and Historiography of Post-Mongol Central Asia and the Middle East: Studies in Honor of John E. Woods, ed. Judith Pfeiffer and Sholeh A. Quinn in collaboration with Ernest Tucker (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006), pp. 23‑60.