Mag. Dr. phil. Lucian Reinfandt

Arabic and Islamic Studies

Austrian National Library, Department of Papyri

Research interests include: Early and Classical Islam; Law and Society; Caliphate and Empire; Migration and Social Mobility; Language and Identity; Islamic Puritanism; Wahhabism and Muslim Reformation; Semiotics of Jihadism; Orientalism in the 20th and 21st centuries.

My current preoccupation is the history of bureaucracy in early Islam. My next book (The Language of Power in a Muslim Caliphate: Bureaucracy and Official Epistolography in Islamic Egypt, 642-969 AD) is a study of administration in the periphery of the Muslim empire under the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphs. By analyzing administrative correspondence on papyrus (from Egypt and Iraq), I investigate patterns of normative behavior of officials versus their personal mind-sets and motivations. My aim is to address two main questions: what was the impact on administrative action of impersonal rules of administrative procedures on the one hand and personal relationships between the officials on the other? And what about the internal contradictions of an ideal conception of centralized control on the one hand and a reality of regionally differing administrative practices on the other?

Moreover, I am preparing the edition of the 9th c AD Arabic papyri and papers found during archaeological excavations at the caliphal palace of Samarra (Iraq) and now in Berlin. They are the only Arabic texts of this genre known so far from Mesopotamia and differ from papyri found in Egypt by their high hierarchical location. They document both the circumstances of imperial dissolution during this period and the interface of eastern and western technological and cultural influences at a caliphal court. A complementary edition of a group of Egyptian official letters on papyrus from the Vienna papyrus collection is in preparation as well.

Another subject of my research is migration processes beyond social elites during the first centuries of Muslim rule in the Eastern Mediterranean. The result is a collected volume Migration History of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone which I am co-editing with two colleagues from Byzantine Studies and which is to appear soon. The role of patronage and pious foundations in pre-modern Islamicate societies has been treated in my monograph on the pious foundations of two Mamluk sultans (Mamlukische Sultansstiftungen des 9./15. Jahrhunderts nach den Urkunden der Stifter al-Ašraf Īnāl und al-Mu ʾayyad Aḥmad ibn Īnāl) from 2003 as well as in a collected volume (Islamische Stiftungen zwischen juristischer Norm und sozialer Praxis) that I have co-edited with Astrid Meier (Zurich) and Johannes Pahlitzsch (Mainz) in 2009. I am also interested in trade routes, trade networks and their societies along the Silk Road which resulted in the collected volume Die Seidenstraße. Handel und Kulturaustausch in einem eurasiatischen Wegenetz edited by Ulrich Hübner (Kiel), Jens Kamlah (Tübingen) and myself in 2001 (2nd ed. 2005).

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