Cluster: Power and Legitimacy

Anonymous Venetian orientalist painting. The Reception of the Ambassadors in Damascus, 1511 (Louvre Museum, public domain)

The convergence of power and the legitimacy of rule or order of the state and society is an ubiquitous phenomenon. As such, it has occupied political actors as well as authors continuously throughout history. Authority and political order also rely on discursive strategies for the generation of their legitimacy, and thus are intricately intertwined with knowledge production more generally.

The projects outlined in this cluster explore the dynamics of interplay between authority, knowledge, legitimacy and power in diverse historical contexts. They share a common interest in the concrete social and political context of knowledge production and the impact said knowledge has on the institution of power and legitimacy. Thus, these investigations are not restricted to the political sphere as such, but explore power and legitimacy within social and intellectual hierarchies as well.

This cluster includes projects on the Islamicate medieval political advice literature, on the generation of theological knowledge and belief systems within its political and social context, and on the importance of the organisation of knowledge in the dynamic process of establishing and instituting scholarly authority. As premodern Islamicate societies did not experience levels of institutionalisation as high as elsewhere, discursive strategies and patterns were perhaps more central in the establishment of social and political order. Yet, the consideration of the specific spatial-temporal conditions also invites a critical reflection of dichotomies in the present, well beyond that region.

Cluster Projects:


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