Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Just taxes? : tracing 14th century Damascene politics through objects, space and historiography
Author: Olsen, Rasmus Bech
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 2109
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
In this thesis, I explore the political culture in Damascus during the 7th/13th and 8th/14th centuries by examining the symbolic practices through which sultanic rulers and their subjects negotiated local power relations. As my point of departure, I use a protest against Mamluk tax policies that took place in 711/1311. I argue that this protest should not be understood as a spontaneous outburst of popular anger, but as a meaningful political act that reflects the wider political culture of the period and lends itself to interpretation of multiple levels. First, I demonstrate how the 711 protesters engaged in a multi-layered form of visual communication by carrying objects that referenced local identity, contemporary politics and Islamic history. I then contextualise the protest within the urban landscape of medieval Damascus. By exploring the historical development of procession routes and parade grounds in Damascus, I argue that the choice of venue that characterised this and later protests was based on a desire to appropriate spatial nodes in the topography of sultanic power. I then turn to the Umayyad Mosque as the antithesis of the ceremonial culture of the military parade ground. I argue that the protesters of 711 used visual references to the mosque in their procession, especially by placing the khaṭīb (Friday preacher) as leader of the procession, but that his participation must also be understood in the light of his wider socio-political role. Finally, I examine the narrative sources through which we access this and other political events in Mamluk Damascus. I argue that the use of these narratives as a source for political history must be accompanied by a comparison of how individual authors frame the same events and critical reflection on how representations of historical events are shaped by and shape the overarching agendas of their respective works.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available