On 19 and 20 April 2013 my colleagues will organise a cool new UK early career symposium on Islamic Archaeology at the University of Southampton: Identities & Islam: Material Culture, Self and Society in the Pre-Modern Muslim World. The conference sounds great and the sessions look interesting. Registration is free (!!!) and is open now. You can also express an interest in attending the event virtually. Like the conference on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. More info can be found on their blog, but here their mission statement as a teaser:
The archaeology of the Islamic world is by no means a wholly neglected field in Europe. On the contrary the field has been growing in recent years, and there are now significant numbers of scholars dispersed in European universities specialising in this area and adopting a wide range of approaches and geographical specialisations. Yet it has often been commented that we should perhaps expect the field to be more developed – considering the growth of the discipline of archaeology more generally and the immense size and temporal scope of the Islamic world, as well as the prominence of Islam itself in world politics (e.g .Petersen 2005).
The reasons that Islamic Archaeology has not achieved similar prominence to Classical archaeology, or even that of the archaeology of the medieval Christian world, are no doubt too complex to be fully explored here. However, part of the problem is perhaps a lack of dedicated and broad academic forums for the field.
The first journal devoted to Islamic Archaeology at its most general, Archéologie Islamique, published in 1990, never reached a wide readership outside France and ceased publication in 2001. In general, research in the field is disseminated across different institutional journals, usually with a regional focus – such as Annales Islamalogiques (an inter-disciplinary journal published by Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale) focussing predominantly on Egypt and the Levant.
In terms of regularly occurring conferences, the academic community in the field is served by the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE), which has had sessions and papers dedicated to Islamic Archaeology since its first meeting in 1998. ICAANE attracts many high profile scholars, making an invaluable contribution to the academic community, though it remains less accessible for researchers early in their career due to high registration costs.
It is hoped that a UK Early Career Symposium on Islamic Archaeology will act as a more open academic forum. It will be open in its content, encouraging not only research regarding the Near East but the entirety of the Islamic world including the Indian sub-continent, sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe. It will be also encourage disciplines beyond archaeology to participate, embracing all approaches based on material culture. It will also be open in terms of accessibility – being free to attend, and with the future aim to offer financial support to those who would like to attend. We also aim to maintain a web presence through use of islamicarch.com, as well as through social media to encourage a community to develop online.