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Visiting Speaker - Dr Michael Feener, Sultan of Oman Fellow, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Oxford

"Muslim Cultures and Pre-Islamic Pasts: Changing Perceptions of 'Heritage'"

This paper explores a diverse range of historic Muslim experiences with and appreciations of pre-Islamic cultural legacies.

Event details

The discussion begins with an overview of Muslim interpretations of Qur’anic verses urging believers to reflect on the visible traces of pasts connected with traditions of pre-Islamic Arabia and Biblical literature.  This is followed by an examination of a series of historical vignettes relating medieval and early modern encounters between Muslims and the material remains of past civilisations that remained visible in the lands that they lived: ranging from Egypt to the Indonesian island of Java.  Taken together, the historical data presented here clearly demonstrates that there is no single, normative  ‘Islamic’ approach to the cultural heritage of pre-Islamic civilizations.  Rather, conversations about the meanings of the past for life in the present and visions of the future are dynamic discourses incorporating an expansive body of ideas and experiences across diverse communities.

R. Michael Feener is the Sultan of Oman Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, and a member of the History Faculty at the University of Oxford.  He was formerly Research Leader of the Religion and Globalisation Research Cluster at the Asia Research Institute and Associate Professor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore.  He has also taught at Reed College and the University of California, Riverside, and held visiting professor positions and research fellowships at Harvard, Kyoto University, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the University of Copenhagen, The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (Honolulu) and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, the Netherlands.  He has published extensively in the fields of Islamic studies and Southeast Asian history, as well as on post-disaster reconstruction, religion and development.  His most recent monograph is Sharia and Social Engineering (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Michael_Feener___A4_Notice.pdf (545K)


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