Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg





"Socio-Intellectual Networks and Mobility between Yemen and the Mamluk Realm"

For my research at ASK in Bonn, I will focus on the 15th and 16th centuries when there was not a consistently dominant power in the political landscape of, at least, central and lower South Arabia. With the dissolution of the Rasulid dynasty during the first half of the 15th century, a new dynamic emerged as the Zaydis first contended with the Tahirids and then briefly with the Mamluks during their brief incursion into Yemen at the beginning of the 16th century. At this time, the Portuguese and Ottomans were also lurking along the coastlines of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean until the latter made their first major foray inland in 1538. Hence, this is the perfect period to examine the interactions and movements of individuals in the socio-intellectual networks of South Arabia without a framework focused around political dynasties, as well as their trans-cultural connections, exchanges, and migrations into the Mamluk realm (and vice-versa). 
To study these trans-regional networks, I will focus on the works of three biographical compilers from Yemen and Egypt: al-Burayhī, Bā (Abū) Makhrama, and al-Sakhāwī. While the former two mainly concentrate on scholars and prominent men in South Arabia, the latter’s widespread coverage of the Ḥijāz, Egypt, and Bilād al-Shām will serve as a valuable mine from which to create as extensive a web of connections as possible. Moreover, the results of this analysis will be further situated within events described in contemporary chronicles (e.g. the works of Ibn al-Daybaʿ and Ibn Ayās) to ensure a thorough comprehension of their significance in the main narratives of this period. Overall, this project will illuminate the conduits through which individuals navigated spatially and socially within and between Yemen and the Mamluk lands, as well as the growth and transformation of their associated intellectual circles during this uncertain period.