Volkswagen Foundation: Dhimmis and Muslims

Dhimmis and Muslims - analysing multi-religious spaces in the Medieval Muslim World

The research project "Dhimmis and Muslims - analysing multi-religious spaces in the medieval Muslim world" aims at studying systematically religious diversity in in medieval Muslim cities. In that time, specific groups of Non-Muslims (especially Jews, Christians or Zoroastrians) had been tolerated, accepting in turn a lower legal status (the so-called Dhimmi-status). This legal construction and political pragmatism led to a great religious diversity in the Medieval Muslim cities. This multi-religious diversity is not found in the Medieval cities under Christian rule.

However, the bias of the Medieval writers, who faded out the existence of other religious communities, has so far inhibited an empirically grounded view of this diversity. The project aims at producing a comprehensive database accessible via interactive visualization as well as a pilot web-based geo-temporal multi-view system to analyse data on multi-religious cities. Automatic text mining will be used to collect and collate sources and to visualize their bias for the first time as a heuristic method in Medieval studies. Thus, this cooperative project of historians from Middle Eastern studies and visualization researchers will revive historiographical methods of heuristics, source analysis and narratives and at the same time boost methods of visual analytics and information visualization.

The project is a cooperation between the Institute for Visualization and Interactive Systems at the University of Stuttgart and the Historical Seminar at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt/Main (project page).

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