The Byzness

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The Byzness: 29 May 2011
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Late Antiquity and Early Islam: Continuity and Change in the Mediterranean 6th-10th century C.E.
“Minorities: legal, cultural and economic perspectives”
Second Roundtable – 28th-30th September 2011
University of Oxford
The second topic to be explored is the position of minorities in the Mediterranean and the Middle East between the 6th and the 10th. “Minority” needn’t indicate powerlessness (e.g. Arab conquerors are a minority in terms of numbers but not lacking in power) and certain minorities are only perceived as such rather than being such in reality (e.g. Christians in early Islamic Middle East often designated a minority even though they would overall have been a majority in terms of numbers).  These are the most obvious indicators of a “minority” (i.e. low numbers, powerlessness, perceived minority status), however, contributors are welcome to make their own case for other instances of minority status and to investigate this subject along the following perspectives:
–    Minorities and the law: this subject has been much studied from the Islamic perspective, and in that sense we would like to hear more about how it worked in non-Islamic lands, as well as from the perspective of the minorities in Muslim-ruled lands, or else how it worked in contexts where there was a less clear-cut hegemonic culture or a more obviously multicultural dimension (e.g. Sicily, Spain, E. Iran/Central Asia).
–    Minorities and culture: how did minority groups manage to express their culture in the dominant cultural idiom (both for their own consumption and also, potentially, for the wider culture – ie did they manage to insert elements of their own culture into that dominant idiom such that it became consumed by all, not only by themselves) and how did the dominant cultural idiom percolate down into the minority cultural, how do we trace those influences in material culture.
–    Minorities and trade: from the later medieval period we have many information about the role that Jews and members of Italian and Crusader city states played in trade, but is there evidence for links between minority groups and trade or manufacture before that? Further east we have the example of Sogdian merchants, whose role in overland trade through Iran and Central Asia has been ably illuminated by Etienne de la Vaissière – but is there any equivalent for the West?
If you are interested in giving a paper could you please contact Robert Hoyland ( or David Taylor ( by 15th June.
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711: Reassessing the Arab Conquest of Spain in its 1
Attached are the details of a day of papers, on Friday 17 June,
considering the impact of the Arab conquest of Spain in 711. Please note
that, though the event is free, it is necessary to register.
IVe Rencontres internationales des doctorants en études byzantines
Institute National D’Histoire de l’Art de Paris
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Film Premiere ‘In the Footsteps of the Argonauts’
Monday 13 June
Barber Institute of Art
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is to host the UK premiere of In the Footsteps of the Argonauts, a powerful historical documentary that follows the fortunes of the Greeks living on the Black Sea, with particular emphasis on the City of Trebizond. Trebizond (Trabzon in modern Turkey) was not only the longest surviving of the Byzantine successor states, but also a symbol of the Greek communities which have lived and thrived on the shores of the Black Sea since the 8th century BC.
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