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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Online webinar
Event date: 
Thursday, 18 February, 2021 - 17:15 to 18:30
Event organiser: 

MES Public Talks Seminar given by Prof. Amira Bennison, University of Cambridge

This talk will explore the tense moment between the death of an Islamic ruler and the accession of his successor in the medieval Islamic west. Whether a ruler died of natural causes after a long reign, in the mêlée of battle, or assassinated by rivals, the ensuing hiatus in power was a dangerous moment for a dynasty. Although it was common for a son to succeed, there was no fixed rule of primogeniture and uncles, male siblings and maternal kin could all manoeuvre to secure a succession favourable to themselves or their interests. Using a number of accounts of these dramatic moments in the medieval Maghrib and al-Andalus, I shall explore what strategies and rituals were adopted to manage this process and create consensus at this most unstable of political moments.

Amira K. Bennison is Professor of the History and Culture of the Maghrib at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Magdalene College. Her teaching and research interests include the medieval Islamic West (Islamic Iberia and Morocco), Maghribi modes of legitimation and cultures of power, and 18th-19th century Muslim religio-political discourse and engagement with modernity. Her publications include The Almoravid and Almohad Empires (Edinburgh, 2016), The Articulation of Power in Medieval Iberia and the Maghrib (Oxford, 2014); The Great Caliphs: the Golden Age of the ‘Abbasid Empire (London, 2009); Cities in the Premodern Islamic World: the urban impact of religion, state and society, edited with Alison L. Gascoigne, (London, 2007); Jihad and its Interpretations in Pre-Colonial Morocco (London, 2002), as well as numerous articles. She is currently working on a monograph about legitimation in the Maghrib over the longue durée, a general history of culture on the two sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, and a history of Muslim Iberia. In addition, Amira contributes regularly to television programmes on Islamic history and is a frequent guest on BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’.


Dr Assef Ashraf: