CALL FOR PAPERS: International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA)
Special Issue on Imagining Localities of Antiquity in Islamicate Societies; Thematic volume planned for Summer 2017
Paper proposal deadline: 30 November 2015

The tragically familiar spectacles of cultural heritage destruction performed by the Islamic State group (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq are frequently presented as barbaric, baffling, and far outside the bounds of what are imagined to be normative, “civilized” uses of the past. Often explained as an attempt to stamp out idolatry or as a fundamentalist desire to revive and enforce a return to a purified monotheism, these spectacles of heritage violence posit two things: that there is, fact, an “Islamic” manner of imagining the past – its architectural manifestations, its traces and localities – and that actions carried out at these localities, whether constructive or destructive, have moral or ethical consequences for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In this reading, the iconoclastic actions of ISIS and similar groups, for example the Taliban or the Wahhabi monarchy in Saudi Arabia, are presented as one, albeit extreme, manifestation of a pervasive and historically ongoing Islamic antipathy toward images and pre-contemporary holy localities in particular, and, more broadly, toward the idea of heritage and the uses to which it has been put by modern nationalism.

But long before the distorting presence of ISIS and other Islamist iconoclasts, and perhaps as early as the rise of Islam itself, Muslims imagined Islamic and pre-Islamic antiquity and its localities in myriad ways: as sites of memory, spaces of healing, or places imbued with didactic, historical, and moral power. Ancient statuary were deployed as talismans, paintings were interpreted to foretell and reify the coming of Islam, and temples and churches devoted to holy saints were converted into mosques in ways that preserved their original meaning and, sometimes, even their architectural ornament and fabric. Often, such localities were valued simply as places that elicited a sense of awe and wonder, or of reflection on the present relevance of history and the greatness of past empires, a theme so prevalent it created a distinct genre of Arabic and Persian literature (aja’ib). Sites like Ctesiphon, the ancient capital of the Zoroastrian Sasanians, or the Temple Mount, where the ancient Jewish temple had stood, were embraced by early companions of the Prophet Muhammad and incorporated into Islamic notions of the self. Furthermore, differing sects of Muslims as well as Jews and Christians often shared holy places and had similar haptic, sensorial, and ritual connections that enabled them to imagine place in similar ways. These engagements were often more dynamic and purposeful than conventional scholarly notions of “influence” and “transmission” can account for. And yet, Muslims also sometimes destroyed ancient places or powerfully reimagined them to serve their own purposes, as for example in the aftermath of the Crusader presence in the Holy Land or in the destruction, reuse and rebuilding of ancient Buddhist and Hindu sites in the Eastern Islamic lands and South Asia.

This special issue invites scholars from across disciplines to engage with a critical reassessment of imaginings of the past in Islamicate societies. Papers may draw on historical or contemporary examples to explore some aspect of the themes outlined here, but are not limited to them.

1. How are and were place and locality used in Islamicate societies to create a sense of the past, and what are/were the routes, rituals, and performances by which the past is inscribed on the landscape?
2. How are holy sites, sites of memory, and sites of ancient heritage simultaneously construed as contemporary and situated in the present in Islamic societies?
 3.  Is there an “Islamic” notion of heritage? Can the ways Muslims imagined and continue to imagine the past enable a critical interrogation of notions of heritage that are predominant in the broader international community?
4. Although ISIS and other Wahabi and Salafi groups are often said to be “medieval” in their methods and attitudes, can they in fact be envisioned as hyper-modern, both in their methods but particularly in the way they target imaginings of heritage as a cherished building block of the modern nation state?
5. Analysis of ISIS’ destruction frequently seems to parrot the agenda of ISIS itself in ways that amplify and reinforce their message, whether through viral sharing of their slickly produced videos on social media or credulous journalistic analysis that takes ISIS at its word. How can researchers analyze these hypermodern forms without re-producing and disseminating the very vision of violence that they crafted?

6. Is there a broader project of reshaping the meaning of heritage unfolding across the Islamic world? The actions of the Taliban, Wahhabi projects of destruction in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the devastation of heritage in Syria by Assad and rebel groups, and the depredations of Islamists in Mali are recent examples. To what degree do contemporary iconoclastic groups rely on the assumed value of modern notions of universal heritage for their impact? How are these contemporary imaginings of the past similar to or different from those held by Muslims in previous centuries?

7. Although Islamicate societies often found ways to revere, venerate, and coexist with the considerable traces of antiquity in their midst, Muslims were also sometimes agents of destruction. What were the contexts in which Muslims destroyed localities of antiquity in the past? What meanings were claimed for such actions and how were they justified by their agents?
Essays that focus on historical and theoretical analysis (DiT papers) should be a minimum of 5,000 words but no more than 8,000 words, and essays on design (DiP papers) can range from 3,000 to 4,500 words. Contributions from practitioners are welcome and should bear in mind the critical framework of the journal. Contributions from scholars of heritage history and preservation as well as scholars and critics of heritage in the broadest sense are also particularly welcome.
Please send a 400-word abstract with essay title to the guest editor, Stephennie Mulder, The University of Texas at Austin (, by 1 November 2015. Those whose proposals are accepted will be contacted soon thereafter and requested to submit full papers to the journal by 1 June 2016. All papers will undergo full peer review.

For author instructions regarding paper guidelines, please consult: 

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Visual Inquiry: Learning and Teaching Art 4.2

Intellect is delighted to announce the new issue of Visual Inquiry 4.2. This truly international issue tackles topics such as data visualization, politics, economics, power and artistic identity. Articles include Rachel Smith Althof's discussion on the Socratic method; a profile of the artist Gu Xiong; Jan van Boeckel's arts-based environmental education practices; Clayton Funk and Juan Carlos Castro's exploration of real-time data mapping; and Rebecca Gessert's Marxist analysis of Fernando Sanchez Castillo's Arquitectura para el Cabello. 

To access the full issue please follow the link below

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Applied Theatre Research 3.2

Intellect is delighted to announce the new release of Applied Theatre Research 3.2

This new issue explores various themes ranging from how drama was used to explore female life conditions in Tanzania to the challenges drama based pedagogy teaching has by looking at three schools in Hong Kong. 

To subscribe to the journal please click below.

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Read an extract from Inclusion in New Danish Cinema
Intellect are delighted to offer a short extract from the introduction of Inclusion in New Danish Cinema for free. We hope you enjoy reading this.

If you have a good script and you are a sufficiently interesting human being, you will be allowed to direct your own film. That’s the way it is in Denmark.

Paprika Steen (Hjort, Jørholt and Novrup Redvall 2010: 266)

Picture candlelight, a warm glowing fireplace on a cold evening. The candlelight gently plays off the faces of friends holding drinks around a table laden with delectable food in a room filled with the sounds of a carefully curated music selection. People come and go for hours while drinks are poured, toasts are made and animated discussions go on into the night as two young athletic skinheads catch one another’s glance in the narrow hallway that leads to the bathroom. The camera moves into a close-up that captures the ripple of sexual tension that briefly crosses one of the men’s faces. This scene begins to describe the all-important concept of the experience of hygge in Danish culture and the ways in which it has been employed in Danish cinema to introduce audiences to themes and relationships that challenge Danish social conventions. Hygge is poorly translated to ‘cozy’ in English, but this sacred social institution is more complex than the simple word cozy allows. Hygge is a central social norm in Danish culture that is all about crafting an experience that allows for and invites intimacy and camaraderie. This obsession with creating social spaces of ease, safety and comfort is not surprising given that the Danes are known to inhabit the ‘happiest nation’ in the world. Is hygge their secret? It cannot hurt that their socialized government also makes certain every citizen is housed, educated and provided with health benefits. A talent for crafting the normative social tranquility of hygge is certainly part of the reason that Danish films are effectively taking on transgressive and highly contentious subject matter within sexually and ethically ripe storylines. This traditional Danish sense of social comfort provides an apt and contrastive backdrop for interrogating social norms and introducing unsettling alternative social realities.

In this book I investigate this special talent for crafting strange and uncommon cinematic moments of relief and empathetic understanding within extremely charged and intimate psychologically challenging narratives that are far removed from ordinary lived experience. By ‘psychologically challenging’ I am referring to storylines that actively challenge the spectator’s settled patterns of seeing, caring and responding to the world. These storylines include male neo-Nazis falling in love, female bodyguards for illegal sex workers, transgendered sexuality and identity, women soldiers on home soil with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, lesbian coming-of-age stories, a husband violently abused by his wife, arranged marriages and forced co-habitation for the purposes of citizenship, and same-sex marriage and alternative family structures.

How are these films seducing, confronting and comforting audiences? The answer is only partially explained by the candlelight and soft lighting (although admittedly these elements are found in many scenes). In addition, Danish cinema relies on the fact that you, the spectator, are likely (like everybody else you know) immersed in social media, YouTube and reality TV. Recent Danish films are employing a digital aesthetic that mimics current Internet and reality TV culture via a roaming voyeuristic camera presence that knows few boundaries. This participatory voyeuristic feel has an amazing capacity to instil empathy in the spectator when intertwined with the ethical and moral world of New Danish Cinema. Dark realistic narratives propel the spectator into scenes full of anguish and emotional turmoil; yet manage to relieve this tension through meaningful human interaction (within a hygge-like comforting social space) that dispels earlier anxiety.

The curious juxtaposition of challenging social themes and Danish cultural norms shot through the voyeuristic lens that mimics existing ever-present digital media culture has helped to thrust New Danish Cinema into the limelight at high-profile film festivals in recent years. From the success of The Hunt at the European Film Awards (Thomas Vinterberg, 2013) to the Academy Award winning In A Better World (Susanne Bier, 2010), New Danish Cinema has arrived. From a nation with a population of just 5.5 million that usually produces only twenty films a year, has come an unprecedented number of award-winning films. Like most Americans, I was unaware of this success when I first encountered New Danish Cinema through a random DVD purchase of A Soap (Pernille Fischer Christensen, 2006) at a local Blockbuster (a DVD rental store which has all but disappeared from the consumer landscape due to competition from digital media providers like Netflix and iTunes). The viewing experience was dark and powerful, heart wrenching and yet palpably hopeful. I felt like a voyeur, like I had been allowed to view a highly private experience that positioned me to respond to the screen in a way I had not experienced in which the provocative was made familiar.

To read more please follow the link to buy the book

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