Session Title

To Better Conjure the Dead: Toward a Historical Anthropology of Islamic Magic (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Societas Magica

Organizer Name

Matthew Melvin-Koushki

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of South Carolina-Columbia

Presider Name

Liana Saif

Presider Affiliation

Warburg Institute

Paper Title 1

Amuletic Archives, or, Conjuring Material Histories of Islamic Occult Science

Presenter 1 Name

Taylor M. Moore

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Rutgers Univ.

Paper Title 2

How Do We Judge When Magic Works?

Presenter 2 Name

Nicholas G. Harris

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Pennsylvania

Paper Title 3

Reading Ibn al-Qayyim in Twenty-First-Century Cairo

Presenter 3 Name

Ana Vinea

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Paper Title 4

The Gabriel of Madness: Muslim Political Theologies in an Age of Hindu Nationalism

Presenter 4 Name

Anand Vivek Taneja

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Vanderbilt Univ.

Paper Title 5

Is (Islamic) Occult Science Science?

Presenter 5 Name

Matthew Melvin-Koushki

Paper Title 6

Sensing Jinn

Presenter 6 Name

Alireza Doostdar

Presenter 6 Affiliation

Univ. of Chicago Divinity School

Start Date

8-5-2020 10:00 AM

Session Location

Sangren 1710

Description

Historians of Islamic Magic, ironically, have often made poor mediums for their medieval occultist dead: the strict, natal divide in Islamic studies between philology and anthropology has allowed orientalists to simply ignore the ontologies of their sources in reflexive scientistic fashion, or even to openly scorn them. But such methodological and ethical follies are now forbidden the anthropologist, who must bracket out not the cosmology (occult or otherwise) of her interlocutors but her own. If they are to finally escape the 19th century and its brutal reality wars, Islamicist historians of Magic will need to better emulate their anthropologist colleagues.

This roundtable brings together historians and anthropologists to explore the ways in which a historical anthropology of Islamic Magic—and Western Magic more broadly—might be possible. Is it legitimate to look to modern practices to understand medieval ones? To what extent is firsthand knowledge of occult-scientific praxis a prerequisite for understanding occult-philosophical theory? Who can better channel the magical dead, the crusty philologist or the living mage? Matthew Melvin-Koushki

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May 8th, 10:00 AM

To Better Conjure the Dead: Toward a Historical Anthropology of Islamic Magic (A Roundtable)

Sangren 1710

Historians of Islamic Magic, ironically, have often made poor mediums for their medieval occultist dead: the strict, natal divide in Islamic studies between philology and anthropology has allowed orientalists to simply ignore the ontologies of their sources in reflexive scientistic fashion, or even to openly scorn them. But such methodological and ethical follies are now forbidden the anthropologist, who must bracket out not the cosmology (occult or otherwise) of her interlocutors but her own. If they are to finally escape the 19th century and its brutal reality wars, Islamicist historians of Magic will need to better emulate their anthropologist colleagues.

This roundtable brings together historians and anthropologists to explore the ways in which a historical anthropology of Islamic Magic—and Western Magic more broadly—might be possible. Is it legitimate to look to modern practices to understand medieval ones? To what extent is firsthand knowledge of occult-scientific praxis a prerequisite for understanding occult-philosophical theory? Who can better channel the magical dead, the crusty philologist or the living mage? Matthew Melvin-Koushki