Medieval Tombs and their Spatial Contexts. Strategies of Commemoration in Christianity and Islam
18 - 20 February 2016

University of Tubingen, Institute of Art History, Tubingen, Germany

The idea that the shaping of tombs and funeral places goes beyond aspects of personal welfare and mirrors social functions and meanings of commemoration up to political claims is very popular in medieval research and leaves its mark on examples from Christian and Islamic contexts likewise. Beside an enhanced interest in ritual integration, recent investigations show a wider perspective on concrete location and spatial situation as main factor for the understanding of tombs and their function. As a result, space is interpreted beyond physical boundaries and frames as a relational definition based on social construct in the sense of collective perception, use and appropriation.

The conference will give the opportunity to discuss these approaches within comparative perspectives on medieval objects, buildings and places of commemoration in Christianity and Islam. The focus lies on the relevance and the integration of tombs as places and spaces of formative and constitutive character in both religious cultures.

Our interest is the reflexion of the analysis of medieval burial monuments with a view to the theoretical concepts of the Spatial turns. Case studies related to the choice of a burial place and the associated negotiation processes, questions of visualization in relation to space through shaped features or rituals up to religious and political intentions will be the object of discussion. Within this idea, the comparison of memorials and their related space in Christian and Islamic contexts raises questions about contact and frontier zones as well as cultural exchange and transfer processes and can sharpen the set of methodological instruments. Contributions from related disciplines such as History and Medieval Archaeology shall ideally complement the focused perspective of Art History.

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