Religious Controversy and Cultural Exchange in a Global Renaissance

Saturday, January 5, 2013: 12:30 PM
Nottoway Room (Sheraton New Orleans)
Ibrahim Kaya Sahin, Indiana University Bloomington
The “Renaissance” was a global phenomenon. The rediscovery of the classics, the emergence of new artistic expressions, the intensification of geographical expansion, the production of knowledge about new lands and peoples, the rise of dynastic states and empires, and the creation of new religious confessions were observed not only in Europe, but in a larger geography that extended from Henrician England to Mughal India and beyond. The idea of a global “Renaissance” might help rejuvenate the concept and make it attractive to larger audiences.  

The formative character of the Renaissance for the history of the whole globe is apparent in, among other things, the Ottoman-Safavid/Sunni-Shiite conflict of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This was the time when the roots of the modern Sunni and Shiite identities were sown through an intense process of imperial competition that included religious controversy as well as cultural exchange. A revised and expanded understanding of the Renaissance would ideally invite historians of religion to supersede the confines of their geographical areas and discuss the realities and repercussions of global shifts in religious confessions. Within the field of Middle Eastern Studies, historicizing the roots of confessions that are seen as eternal and unchanging, and showing their connections to global processes, will not only be a significant academic breakthrough, but also the first step in making the history of the global “Renaissance” relevant for a study and critique of today’s politicized religions. This will show that the Renaissance, understood as a global process, continues to define who we are and what we do in our everyday lives.

<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation