Scholars have long recognized that although Shiʿi claims emerged early in Islamic history, Imami Shiʿism took a couple of centuries to crystallise. Scholarship on Shiʿism has tended to focus on doctrine, but hitherto there has been little research into the institutions and social networks of early Imami Shiʿism. The project aims to propose the first rigorously historical model for how, when and why a distinctive Imami Shiʿi Imamate emerged and developed as an institution. The ImBod project will frame the Imamate as a set of social interactions between the Imams, and the community who venerated them, within the broader networks of the early Islamic empire. Members of the ImBod project team will be assigned particular thematic spheres in order to identify and study the networks, actors, institutions, spaces, objects and processes through which the Imamate was mediated and performed within the Imami Shiʿi community and beyond.
The project will bring together a broad array of sources (material, documentary and textual) and approaches, both traditional close-reading and computational analysis in order to approach the vast, challenging textual corpus of Shiʿi and non-Shiʿi texts that bear on the development of the Imamate.
3 positions will be available within the ImBod team: a PhD candidate; a Postdoctoral researcher (3 years); and a Postdoctoral researcher (2 years).
PhD project (project 1): The household of the Imams
This project will involve conducting research related to the following questions: how were Imams and the Imamate produced in the context of the Imam’s household and the networks of family? How did householders and close family members mediate the image and influence of Imamate to the community beyond? The candidate for this position will therefore have to work to develop a specific project topic within this broad area. The candidate will look at two distinct bodies of literature in particular: the genealogies in which the names and relations between the members of the extended families of ʿAlids were included; and hagiographical reports in which the details of the lives of the Imams were narrated, often via purported eyewitnesses from within the household of the Imams. It is anticipated that key analytical frameworks will be those of kinship, gender and purity. The Imamic household was a key location for the production of (the image of) the Imami Shiʿi Imamate. The Imams were not only spiritual leaders, but also human bodies embedded in processes of birth, procreation, death and succession. These processes were also intrinsically implicated in the process of producing new Imams. This project will involve identifying key sites and rituals for production of Imamate in the intimate spaces of the household: such as procreation, birth, education, death and the designation of a successor. Close attention will be paid to the agency of women close to the Imams, and the ways in which the representations of the Imam are embedded in the historical institutions of family, kinship, concubinage, the legal institutions of marriage and slavery, the purity rituals which governed key aspects of household praxis, and legal and customary institutions governing the procreation of children.
More information about the project can be found here.
- Write a PhD dissertation
- Submit at least 1 article for publication
- Work towards editing a special issue or edited volume in collaboration with other team members
- Attend regular in-person team meetings
- Prepare and process textual resources for computational analysis by the project team as a whole
- Present research at international workshops and conferences
- Assist in event planning and organisation