Duke's Bruce Lawrence Explains the "Islamicate Cosmopolitan Spirit"

February 8, 2022

By Meredith Watkins

Islamicate Cosmopolitan Spirit. Bruce Lawrence, Duke University

In a virtual Wednesdays at the Center presentation, Bruce B. Lawrence, the Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Humanities Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion at Duke University, discussed his most recent book, Islamicate Cosmopolitan Spirit

In his lecture, Professor Lawrence provided a thorough overview of the pre-existing scholarship on Islamicate history, highlighting the works of Ibn Khaldun, whom he called the first Islamicate cosmopolitan, and Marshall Hodgsen, who coined the term Islamicate, which Lawrence defines in his book as, “the social and cultural dimensions of Muslim rule that are informed by Islamic belief but not limited to Muslims.”

Lawrence posits that the Islamicate exists, and has existed for hundreds of years, far beyond the “Arab” Middle East that many people associate with Islam. From Northern Africa, through modern-day Afghanistan, and extending to parts of Central and Southeast Asia, the Islamicate has been influencing large swaths of land, societies, and cultures for centuries.

Lawrence also explained that a modern diaspora has led to areas of Euro-America also being included in what he would today consider the Islamicate. He considers the role of elites, both men and women, artists as well as scientists, as critical in progressing both the physical boundaries and worldwide importance of the Islamicate throughout time.

Robert Rozenhal, Professor of Islamic Studies and South Asian Religions at Lehigh University, served as moderator for this lecture.

This event was sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center, the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies, and the Duke Islamic Studies Center.

Watch full event: