Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg





"Branding Damascus: Material Culture and Its Imaginaries"

During my fellowship at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg, I plan to work on my current book project, Medieval Damascus and Material Culture: Objects and their Imaginaries (working title). In the Middle Islamic Period, the city of Damascus had become famous as the source for a wide range of luxury objects and prestige goods. Wealth and power coursed through the city promoting production and exchange, in ways that do not always track with the ups-and-downs of the dynasty’s economic and political narrative. Increasingly, international trade flourished and high-level clients outside the city commissioned products from Damascus. Spurred by these catalysts, almost every medium witnessed important new developments – but not along identical trajectories. In spite of the prominence of Damascus in luxury manufacture, the innovations of its workshops, and the renown of its markets, there remain many questions about the attribution, production mechanisms, and exchange systems of the much sought-after objects made and traded there. This study will re-examine the made-in-Damascus question and aims to generate a framework for approaching material of Damascene production, distribution and reputation that gets past issues of provenance and attribution. At Bonn, I hope to complete a chapter of the book and expand the outlines of the other chapters and to use my residency there as a springboard to better acquaint myself with European collections of Mamluk art.