Tag Archives: Charles West

Conference: Religious Exemption and the State 400 – 1300

Religious Exemption and the State 400 – 1300, Sheffield 14th to 16th April 2016

About the conference

Throughout history, religious groups across the world have claimed exemption from their rulers’ demands, with a considerable degree of success. Such exemptions were prevalent in the pre-modern world, from Buddhist monks’ accumulation of tax-free lands to Latin clerics’ assertion of ‘benefit of clergy’ and Islamic charitable waqf. Although the particular forms of exemption varied according to religious practices and the nature of the political systems in which they operated, a common set of core similarities is apparent.

A full appreciation of these exemptions’ significance in the pre-modern world however been impeded, on the one hand by their embedding in traditional narratives such as the rise of the modern (Western) state, to which they are often represented as obstacles, and on the other by the conceptual difficulties posed by the categories at the historian’s disposal, such as ‘religion’, ‘secular’, and indeed ‘state’, when applied to the pre-modern period.\

This conference, supported by the AHRC, seeks to engage with these problems ascontribution to developing a comparative global historical understanding of religious exemption from state demands in the pre-modern world. The conference, held at the Department of History in Sheffield from Thursday evening  (14th April 2016) through to Saturday morning (16th April 2016), will address three key questions. Firstly, how common were these exemptions on a global scale, and what kind of commonalities did they share? Secondly, what kind of structural role did these exemptions play: did they weaken the states that conceded them, or did they rather – as some recent research has suggested – strengthen them, whether by providing legitimacy or by supporting the informal networks underpinning the formal exercise of power? Thirdly, how should the demarcation they created best be conceptualised in an age thought not to have been structured by the modern secular/religious distinction?


The draft programme is available here


(click on the link to view a PDF of the abstract)

Dominic Goodall and Andrew Wareham, Gifts of Power

Thomas Kohl, Forging immunities – religious exemption, justice, and territories in eleventh century in the medieval West

Rutger Kramer, The Exemption that Proves the Rule Alcuin, Theodulf and Charlemagne in Conflict (802)

Antonello Palumbo, Religious exemption and the state 400–1300

Mario Poceski, The Sociopolitical Positioning of the Buddhist Sangha vs the Imperial State in Medieval China

Kriston Rennie, Monastic Exemption: The Long Road to Protection

Uriel Simonsohn, Conversion, Manipulation, and Legal Exemption: A Few Case Studies from the Early Islamic Period

Further information
For more details, please contact Charles West  (c.m.west@sheffield.ac.uk)

On This Day in History: Why do Anniversaries Matter?

Panel Discussion: On This Day in History: Why do Anniversaries Matter?

Chaired by Professor Helen Weinstein, broadcaster, historian and member of BBC History Editorial Advisory Board
As part of Sheffield HSTSOC’s Remembrance Week and in association with the University of Sheffield’s History Matters blog, academic, public historian and broadcaster Helen Weinstein will introduce and chair a panel discussion on the significance of anniversaries and centenaries. With the centenary of the outbreak of World War I next year, historians will ask: why do anniversaries matter? What significance do they hold in the modern world? How do they shape media coverage of history and affect the ways in which we remember?

The fascinating and diverse panel will cover the medieval to the modern era, including specialists on 1492, the Irish Decade of Commemorations, the Significance of the Centenary Project and the Sheffield 1914: Lives and Headlines project.

Participants include: Dr Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid, Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock, Lydia Rollinson, Amy Ryall, Helen Smith and Dr Charles West

Professor Helen Weinstein is a historian of contemporary culture, researching how narratives of the past function in our society and how identities are constructed in the present using the past. As a member of the BBC History Editorial Advisory Board, she is heavily involved in shaping the national dialogue on the commemoration of the First World War as an advisor and broadcaster at the BBC. In addition, Helen is making some of the BBC documentary and online content for the World War One commemoration with her team at Historyworks TV Ltd. Helen is also a very experienced broadcaster and producer, as well as a founding director of the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past, University of York. She is now a Research Professor as a Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, where she is completing a book which is an analysis of public engagement, policy and participation, entitled The Public Past: History, Meaning, and Society (forthcoming, Routledge, 2014).

If you are unable to attend, you can submit a question for the panel via twitter to @unishefhistory, where the event will also be live-tweeted. The hashtag for the event is #historymatters.

We will be continuing the discussion afterwards on the History Matters blog at http://www.historymatters.group.shef.ac.uk/. For more information, contact Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock (c.pennock@sheffield.ac.uk or @carolinepennock).

All welcome!