15th Ernst Herzfeld Gesellschaft (EHG) Colloquium

The Ernst Herzfeld Gesellschaft (EHG) | Ernst Herzfeld Society for Studies in Islamic Art and Archaeology and the Eötvös Loránd University are pleased to invite you to the 15th colloquium of the Society to be held in Budapest, July 4–6, 2019, under the title Spaces and Frontiers of Islamic Art and Archaeology.

The concepts of frontier, boundary, and border, and consequently of spaces and regions they delimit, have left a persistent mark on the perception of geography, whether expounded in pre-modern Muslim textual sources, or by modern geostrategists. The medieval Hudud-al-ʽAlam (Limits of the World, 372/982) suggests, encapsulating in its title the defining significance of boundaries, that such divisions, imposed by mountains, rivers, or deserts, are inherent and natural markers to differentiate spaces and regions. The spatial turn, related also to changes in Central and Eastern Europe not so many years ago, has brought the concept to the forefront once again, also in scholarship on visual and material culture, art history, and archaeology. 

Attempts to do away with the constraints of the inherited perception of a trans-regional Muslim world have brought about new approaches of looking at them. Such experiments have inevitably created new, perhaps more subtle, ruptures: temporal junctures between past and present understandings of things, and new, globalized distinctions. Spatial and regional delimitations rely on conceptual frames within which entities are defined, yet definitions themselves remain fluid despite our dependence on the very idea of definition. ‘Islamic art’ is among the definitions that fall short of assuming a generally accepted outline, often particularly in the regional art historiography of the countries that supposedly are covered by the term. Postulating sets of criteria to imply that the visual and material culture of a Muslim community, or Muslim society, was perceived by that community or society as ‘Islamic’ may lead to unsatisfying results, yet scholarly discourse on art and archaeology needs a discussion of these attempts.

The 15th colloquium of the Ernst Herzfeld Society invites papers, and encourages panel proposals, to address the ways in which Islamic art developed within or expanded beyond external, internal, confessional, and political limits and resulted in a diversity of visual and material cultures. There will be, as usual, also room for papers that report on current research outside of the main theme of the colloquium.


The colloquium is planned to begin with a keynote lecture on the evening of Thursday, July 4, 2019. It continues with panel sessions on Friday and Saturday, July 5–6. A meeting of graduate students is scheduled for Thursday, July 4, for which a separate call will be circulated. The graduate meeting is planned to include also a discussion panel with professionals speaking on research skills, publishing, and finding a job.The annual general assembly of the Ernst Herzfeld Society will be held on Friday or Saturday afternoon.

Please submit your panel or paper proposal for the colloquium by March 1, 2019 to Dr Iván Szántó: [email protected] All proposals will undergo a peer review selection process. Acceptance will be notified in the first week of April 2019.

Pre-arranged panels will preferably include three presentations. It is of course also possible to submit individual papers, which will be presented in open panels. Each presentation is limited to 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion (or 30 minutes of discussion per panel). The colloquium languages are English and German. 

  • Individual papers: Please submit a title and an abstract of no more than 300 words. 
  • Pre-arranged panels: Please submit a title and an abstract of no-more than 500 words presenting the topic and the aim of the panel, as well as a provisional list of speakers.

If you want to submit a paper proposal for the graduate meeting, please send your title and abstract to Sarah Johnson: [email protected]

Registration and participation in the colloquium are free for members of the Society. Other speakers and participants are asked to pay a conference fee equivalent to the annual membership fee of 50 € (reduced 25 €). We kindly request that speakers and participants organize their own travel and accommodation. A list of hotels located in the vicinity of the colloquium venue will be sent in due course.

Organizer of the 15th EHG colloquium:  

Dr. Iván Szántó 
Department of Iranian Studies Eötvös Loránd University
[email protected]