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Antoine Borrut

Associate Professor
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Antoine Borrut specializes in early Islamic history and historiography. He is the author of Entre mémoire et pouvoir: l’espace syrien sous les derniers Omeyyades et les premiers Abbassides (v. 72-193/692-809) [Between memory and power: the Syrian space under the Latter Umayyads and Early Abbasids (ca. 72-193/692-809)] (Leiden: Brill, 2011). He also edited or co-edited several volumes: Umayyad Legacies: Medieval Memories from Syria to Spain (edited with Paul M. Cobb, Leiden: Brill, 2010), gathering the proceedings of an international conference that he co-organized in Damascus, Syria, in 2006; Écriture de l’histoire et processus de canonisation dans les premiers siècles de l’Islam [Historical Writing and Canonization Processes in Early Islam], Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée (REMMM) 129 (Aix-en-Provence: 2011); Le Proche-Orient de Justinien aux Abbassides: peuplement et dynamiques spatiales [The Near East from Justinian to the Abbasids: Settlement and Spatial Dynamics] (edited with M. Debié, A. Papaconstantinou, D. Pieri, and J.-P. Sodini, Turnhout: Brepols, 2012).

Antoine Borrut has previously taught at the University of Toulouse Le Mirail (France), the University of Saint-Joseph (Beirut, Lebanon), the University of Paris 8 Saint-Denis (France) and directed seminars at the University of Paris 1–La Sorbonne and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences). He was also a research fellow of the Institut Français du Proche-Orient (French Institute of the Near East) in Damascus (Syria, 2002-2006) and a post-doctoral fellow, at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (French National Center for Scientific Research) in Paris (2007-2008).

He organized several workshops and conferences in the Middle East, in France and in the US, and published several journal articles mostly dealing with early Islamic Syria or Islamic historiography. He currently serves as Middle East Medievalists’ secretary (, the leading professional association in North America in the field of pre-modern Islam. He is also the editor of the bulletin of the association, al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā.

Current projects:

I am currently working on two main projects. The first one, tentatively entitled Heaven and History: Astrologers, Theologians, and the Making of Islamic History, focuses on the much-neglected genre of astrological histories and on the role of court astrologers in historical writing in early Islam. This project notably aims to shed a new light on the thorny question of lost sources in early Islamic historiography and on the various forms of historical writing that flourished in Muslim contexts. A preliminary evaluation of the material and a more detailed sense of the project can be found in my forthcoming article: “Court Astrologers and Historical Writing in Early Abbasid Baghdad: An Appraisal,” in J. Scheiner et al. (eds.), Contexts of Learning in Baghdad from the 8th-10th Centuries (Princeton: The Darwin Press, forthcoming).

My second main direction of research concentrates on the construction of early Islamic sites of memory (lieux de mémoire) and its impact on the making of an agreed upon version of the early Islamic past. In this perspective, I am now studying one of founding episodes of early Islam, namely the martyrdom of al-Ḥusayn at Karbala in 61/680. Preliminary results should be available shortly in “Remembering Karbalāʾ: The Construction of an Early Islamic Site of Memory,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam (forthcoming in 2014).

Besides these two book-length projects, I am also working on a co-edited volume (with Fred M. Donner, tentatively entitled Christians and Others in the Early Umayyad State) and on various smaller projects mostly dealing with the first dynasty of Islam, the Umayyads.

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