Conference Program

Imperial Mysticisms:

Piety and Power in Early Modern Empires

from a Global Perspective


November 27-30, 2019

Central European University
Budapest, Nádor utca 15

Auditorium B




November 27, 2019

17:00 – 17:10 Welcome

  • Michael Ignatieff (CEU President and Rector)

17:10 – 17:30 Opening Remarks

  • Carsten Wilke (CEU)
  • Ute Falasch (CEU)

17:30 – 19:00 Keynote Address

  • Alan Strathern (University of Oxford): Mysticism and Empire: Towards a Global Comparative Analysis

19:00 – 20:00 Reception

November 28, 2019

9:30 – 10:50 Session 1: The Inner Empire: Political World Images in Mystical Thought

Chair: Nadia Al-Bagdadi (CEU)

  • Shahzad Bashir (Brown University): The Power of Mystical Language
  • Carsten Wilke (CEU): The Political Cosmology of Early Modern Kabbalah

11:20 – 13:20 Session 2: Precedents: Mystical Politics from Antiquity to Early Modernity

Chair: Matthias Riedl (CEU)

  • Gábor Buzási (ELTE): The Neoplatonic Mysticism of Emperor Julian the Apostate
  • Ilker Evrim Binbaş (Universität Bonn): The Articulation of Political Ideas in a Mystical Milieu: The Bistamiyya and Safaviyya in Syria
  • Gábor Klaniczay (CEU): From Birgitta of Sweden to Joan of Arc. The Political Activities of Late Medieval Mystics

16:20 – 17:40 Session 3: Mystic Rulers and Esoteric Courts (I)

Chair: Günhan Börekçi (CEU)

  • Dewei Zhang (Jinan University Guangzhou): Listening to the Unheard:  Wanli Court Politics and the Involvement of Buddhism and Daoism
  • Martin Scheutz (Universität Wien): Humble Servants of the Habsburgs: The Capucins in Austria in Early Modern Times

17:50 – 19:10 Session 4: Mystic Rulers and Esoteric Courts (II)

Chair: Robyn Dora Radway (CEU)

  • A. Azfar Moin (University of Texas at Austin): Mughal Religious Policy of Sulh-i Kull (Total Peace) and the Biblical Problem of Oaths
  • György Endre Szőnyi (University of Szeged / CEU)): The Magical-Mystery World of Rudolf II's Empire

November 29, 2019

9:30 – 11:30 Session 5: Mystical Networks in Imperial Space (I)

Chair: József Laszlovszky (CEU)

  • Dániel Siptár (Hungarian Jesuit Archives, Budapest): Jesuit Confessors and Army Chaplains in Hungary and Transylvania during the Long Turkish War (1593-1606)
  • Hüseyin Yilmaz (George Mason University Fairfax): Imperial Sufism: The Ottomans, Bektashis, and Mevlevis in Empire-Building
  • Rula Jurdi Abisaab (McGill University, Montreal): Agency and Accommodation: the Lālāʾī Dhahabiyya Sufis of Safavid Iran

12:00 – 13:20 Session 6: Mystical Networks in Imperial Space (II)

Chair: Brett Wilson (CEU)

  • Federico Palomo (Universidad Complutense Madrid): Spanish Female Visions in Portuguese Macao: María Magdalena de la Cruz, the Franciscan Missionary Politics in Asia and the Global Circulation of Mystical Piety in the 17th Century Iberian Empires
  • Tobias Winnerling (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf): The Devil, the Enemy, the Demon, Lucifer: 16th Century Jesuits Coming to Terms with Evil in the Overseas Missions

14:50 – 16:10 Session 7: Mystics as Cultural Brokers

Chair: Carsten Wilke (CEU)

  • Ines Aščerić-Todd (University of Edinburgh): Sufi Orders in Ottoman Bosnia: from Imperial Legitimacy to Voices of Discontent
  • Ute Falasch (CEU): Promoting Mughal Politics: Abd al-Rahman Chishti between Pluralism, Inclusivism and Exclusivism

16:40 – 18:00 Session 8: Mystics of Religious Minorities

Chair: Vlad Naumescu (CEU)

  • Orit Ramon (The Open University of Israel): Maharal of Prague: Mystical Construction of a Jewish Confession in a Multi-confessional Empire
  • István Perczel (CEU): Pseudo-Dionysian and Patristic Mysticism in the Service of the Jesuit Missions in India (16th-17th century)

November 30, 2019

9:30 – 10:50 Session 9: Subversive Mystics

Chair: Benedek Péri (ELTE)

  • Jessica J. Fowler (IE University Segovia & Madrid): Policing Imperial Mystics: The Threat of “Silly Little Women” to Global Empire
  • Matthias Riedl (CEU): Apostolic Christianity and the End of Empire: Thomas Müntzer’s Apocalyptic Platonism

11:20 – 12:40 Session 10: Decline and Periodization of Imperial Mysticism

Chair: Jan Hennings (CEU)

  • Derin Terzioğlu (Boğaziçi University / Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin): Reconfigurations of Sufism and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire, ca. 1580-ca. 1730: The End of Imperial Mysticism?
  • Ata Anzali (Middlebury College): 'Irfan as a Category of Power during the Safavid Era

14:10 – 15:10 Final Discussion / Closing Remarks

  • Moderated by Tijana Krstić (CEU)