A Renaissance Interrupted?: Personhood, “Sodomy” and the Public in Twelfth-Century Christian and Islamic Proto-Civil Legality

Mardi, 27 mars, 2018 13:00à14:30
Pavillon Chancellor-Day NCDH 202, 3644, rue Peel, Montréal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

Le Centre Paul-André Crépeau de droit privé et comparé poursuit le cycle 2016-2018 des Ateliers de droit civil, sur le thème « Le public en droit privé », avec une conférence de Vanja Hamzić (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London).


[En anglais seulement] 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 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 talk seeks to make a modest contribution to that debate, by guiding the audience’s attention to a tell-tale public 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 talk 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 public, 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.

Le conférencier

[En anglais seulement] Dr Vanja Hamzić is a Senior Lecturer in Legal History and Legal Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, an Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple and a former Member of the School of Social Science in the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. His main body of work interrogates historical and present-day formations of gender and sexual diversity in various Islamicate societies of South Asia, Southeast Asia and West Africa. His published books include Control and Sexuality: The Revival of Zinā Laws in Muslim Contexts (2010; with Ziba Mir-Hosseini) and Sexual and Gender Diversity in the Muslim World: History, Law and Vernacular Knowledge (2016).

Les Ateliers de droit civil

En vue de promouvoir la réflexion fondamentale en droit privé, le Centre a instauré la série des Ateliers de droit civil, qui permet de regrouper des juristes québécois et étrangers autour de thèmes de recherche communs. Dédiés à l’étude d’un thème de recherche transversal, les Ateliers de droit civil contribuent ainsi à enrichir et à stimuler la recherche fondamentale en droit privé.

Le cycle 2016-2018 des Ateliers de droit civil, présenté par le Centre Paul-André Crépeau de droit privé et comparé, se déroule sur le thème « Le public en droit privé ».

La série des Ateliers de droit civil compte sur l’appui financier du Fonds d’appui à l’accès à la justice dans les deux langues officielles.

Aucune inscription préalable n’est requise. Chaque atelier est accrédité pour 1,5 heure de formation continue obligatoire auprès du Barreau du Québec et de la Chambre des notaires du Québec.

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