Riyaz Latif, Mellon Assistant Professor of History of Art, will deliver the Dorothy Ford Wiley Lecture at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill on Friday, November 4. His lecture, “Archiving Knowledge in Sacred Earth: Madrasa in the Marinid Chella,” is sponsored by the UNC Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
The somewhat anomalous incidence of a madrasa in the fourteenth-century Marinid dynastic necropolis in the ancient Chella complex in Rabat, Morocco, merits interpretation on two distinctive grounds: the first is within the framework of baraka (holy grace) and the sacred undertones of the site as they hypothetically bear on the historical constitution of the Chella. Secondly, this incidence, in all likelihood, illustrates the emergent “institutional” sensibilities of the Marinids, a probable outcome of their relationship with the Mamluks of Cairo with their disposition for creating composite social complexes or kulliyes. Latif’s talk will delve into the construction of Marinid authority as it was realized in an appropriation of the Chella’s supposed sacred aura, and articulated in the enduring Marinid architectural presence on the site.
Trained as an architect in India, Latif primarily focuses his teaching and research on Islamic art and architecture. He was one of ten Andrew W. Mellon John E. Sawyer Seminar Fellows at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities addressing “When the Fringe Dwarfs the Center: Vernacular Islam Beyond the Islamic World” during the academic year 2015-2016.
Latif’s book manuscript in preparation, Ornate Visions of Knowledge and Power: Formation of Marinid Madrasas in Maghrib al-Aqsa, stems from his work focused on the art and architectural production in premodern Islamic Maghrib and its cultural moorings in the premodern western Mediterranean world. Latif has also written about the Marinid necropolis of the Chella in Rabat, Morocco, and has published an article on the Great Mosque of Cordoba in the context of its visual imaginings by the preeminent Urdu poet, Iqbal.