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Lecture by Tariq al-Jamil

This lecture intends to shed new light on and bring new methodological approaches to bear on a well known theme in Twelver Shi'ism: taqiyya or religious dissimulation. While legal and theological discussions of religious dissimulation (taqiyya) in Imami Shi'ism are essential for understanding the discursive dimensions of this phenomena, these materials seldom shed light on what constitutes its practice and uses in actual social circumstances. The focus of the lecture is to explore the bodily practices, and social behaviors associated with the performance of taqiyya in 13th and 14th century Iraq in light of four principal historiographical problems: 1) the paucity of direct information from documentary materials on the specific performance of religious dissimulation (taqiyya) local contexts and in concrete social situations and 2) the particular subjectivities of the authors of medieval biographical dictionaries and chronicles in their discursive struggles over the representation of religious identity, 3) the complex set of behaviors and strategies required to sustain an adopted persona, and 4) the examination of the relationship between religious dissimulation and heresy.

Faculty lectures are sponsored by the Provost's Office and are open to the entire college community and the public.