PSW is pleased to kick off the year with a workshop featuring Yoni Brack (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), entitled Rashid al-Din, William of Rubruck, and the Mongol Court Debate: Or Why Muslims Succeeded to Convert the Mongols and the Christians Failed? The workshop will take place on Monday, September 24, 5:00-7:00 PM in Osterman Common Room, 1022 South Thayer Building, 202 S. Thayer St., Ann Arbor. Below is a description of Brack’s pre-circulated paper:
Court contests—from tournaments to intellectual duels and inter-religious debates—were a central feature of the imperial culture of the thirteenth-fourteenth-centuries Mongol Empire. At these discussions and disputations, Mongol emperors claimed to have superior, divinely-inspired intuitive knowledge, unencumbered by education or training. Based on the Muslim vizier Rashīd al-Dīn’s (d. 1318) theological and philosophical writings, this paper focuses on Muslim approaches to Mongol court debates within the broader context of Muslim proselytizing efforts, and compares them to Western Christian attitudes. Exploring Rashīd al-Dīn’s process of translation and displacement of the Mongols’ model of divinized kingship, this paper contributes to the recent discussion on sacral kingship, between the immanentist and transcendentalist, monotheistic and Indic, traditions.
Jonathan Brack is a postdoctoral fellow at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), and a former postdoctoral fellow of the ERC project “Mobility, Empire and Cross Cultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia” (Hebrew University). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan (Department of History, 2016). He is currently working on his book manuscript “An Afterlife for the Khan: Chinggis Khan’s Heaven and the Eurasian Cultures of Debate”.