TitleBoundary Work from East to West
Date/TimeWednesday 6 July 2022: 14.15-15.45
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairAlaric Hall, Institute for Medieval Studies / School of English, University of Leeds
Paper 1230-a Crossing Borders to Predict the Future: Divination by Geomancy from East to West
(Language: English)
Arianna Dalla Costa, Warburg Institute, University of London
Index Terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies; Language and Literature - Latin; Science
Paper 1230-b Negotiating Moral Boundaries: Attitudes to Wealth in Medieval Qur'anic Exegesis
(Language: English)
Alena Kulinich, Department of Asian Languages & Civilizations, Seoul National University / Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford
Index Terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies; Language and Literature - Other; Religious Life; Theology
Paper 1230-c His Final (?) Resting Place: Early Furta sacra from Gregory of Tours
(Language: English)
Willum Westenholz, Independent Scholar, Wien
Index Terms: Hagiography; Language and Literature - Latin; Mentalities
AbstractPaper -a:
My paper focuses on the form of astrology known as geomantia. In particular, I aim to address the liminality of this practice. Geomancy crosses a geographical, linguistic, and cultural border: it originates in the Islamic world and enters the West in the 12th century through translations from Arabic into Latin. Secondly, it challenges the cosmological borders between the heavens and the sublunary world: it is a form of astrology, yet, instead of observing the heavens, the geomancer reads their signs in the sand. Finally, geomancy crosses the boundary between astrological prediction and psychological analysis, as it wants to investigate the depths of the human soul.

Paper -b:
This paper deals with references to wealth in the text of the Qur'an, and their interpretations in medieval Islamic exegesis. While some Qur'anic verses regard material wealth as divine favour, others emphasise its transient and worldly nature, diverting people away from God, and disapprove of accumulation of wealth and the greed and arrogance of the wealthy. This paper focuses on the ways in which medieval Muslim commentators interpreted these references, identifying the shifts in attitude towards material wealth and examining the strategies that the commentators employed to negotiate the boundaries between the sanctioned and disapproved categories of wealth.

Paper -c:
Disturbing the sanctity of the grave required the crossing of a great moral border, the transgressing against a taboo. Even more transgressive, at least at first, was the dismemberment of the body. The great demand for relics across the Christian world, combined with their limited supply, eventually overcame both of these taboos. This happened earlier in the East and evidence from Gregory the Great shows that this was a point of cultural tension between the Roman Church and visitors from Constantinople. In the voluminous hagiographical writings of the Gallic bishop Gregory of Tours, references to translations of saintly bodies are rare, and the division of bodies almost non-existent. The fights that often erupted over the yet-unburied bodies of saints show that the ideological framework used to justify furta sacra in later ages was already well-developed. Especially fascinating, however, is the reference in Historiae 7.31 to a fingerbone of St Sergius brought by a traveler from Syria. The passage is rife with Orientalizing color, marking the object and practice as strange, but also shows full acceptance of and reverence for the relic. These are the early stages of what would later become a completely accepted cultural practice.