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Hamzić, Vanja (2019) A Renaissance Interrupted? Personhood, ‘Sodomy’ and the Public in Twelfth-Century Christian and Islamic Proto-Civil Legality. Montréal: Centre Paul-André Crépeau de droit privé et comparé. (Forthcoming)

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The eventful twelfth century was, in many ways, a veritable paradox. On the one hand, it saw a sudden surge in academic works and universities in Western and Southern Europe that sought to bridge the worlds previously thought entirely incommensurable and usher in an age of scholasticism that would eventually lead to the fourteenth- to seventeenth-century Renaissance. For this reason, it has been a staple of mediaevalist scholarship for quite some time now to describe those thorough-going changes as the ‘renaissance of the twelfth century’. On the other hand, the same century also reads as a striking catalogue of most violent acts and disasters: from the rise of inquisition and merciless Christian infighting, over the first expulsions of Jews and the intensification of the Reconquista on Muslim Spain to the blood and gore of the Second, Third and German Crusades. Might it not be more appropriate, then, to characterise this period as an age of profound crisis, in which the true contours of a ‘persecuting society’ were drawn This paper seeks to make a modest contribution to that debate, by guiding the audience’s attention to a tell-tale aspect of high mediaeval life—that of sexual and gender diversity—and by expanding the view over the twelfth century so as to include the affairs in the Great Seljuk Empire (1037–1194), a vast Turko-Persianate Sunnī Muslim state that originated in Anatolia but quickly came to rule over much of the then Islamicate world. The paper considers, in particular, an unlikely rise of neo-Roman European civil law and Seljuk proto-civil legality and its formidable effect on two paradigmatic twelfth-century intellectual debates on the legal and theological standing of ‘sodomy’ (peccatum sodomiticum, liwāṭ): one in amongst prominent Benedictines and the other between the leading Ḥanafī scholars. It is argued that these debates, led in the distinct spirit of concordia discors (discordant harmony) or ikhtilāf (permissible scholarly disagreement), are indispensable for our understanding of legal and social aspects of sexual and gender diversity in the twelfth century and, in turn, the way in which certain rapturous pluralities were continued and ruptured—concomitantly.

Item Type: Monographs and Working Papers (Working Paper)
SOAS Departments & Centres: School Research Centres > Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law
Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2018 11:04

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