Academic year
2018/2019 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LM2210 (AF:246849 AR:139062)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
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This is one of the interdisciplinary courses (C) that are part of the master's degree programme in Language and Civilisation of Asia and Mediterranean Africa (Near and Middle East, Indian Sub-continent) and it contributes to broadening the student's knowledge of the culture of the area by going into some aspects of material culture. The course will take the student to know and understand the complexity of urban forms in the Islamic world, and to explain them in relation to the main cultural, political, economic and social changes.
The student will acquire knowledge and skills that will allow him/her to understand the interpretative models elaborated in the history of studies and to critically analyze the complex urban forms of the Islamic world between tradition and innovation. He/she will be able to conduct independent research on these issues
The course does not require specific competences.
Through the analysis of the documentation available at present (historical, architectural and archaeological), the course will try to focus on the main factors that have contributed to the definition of urban forms and structures in a number of cities in the Islamic world.
The legacy of the tradition and the innovations (for example: the abandonment of the orthogonal model, the introduction of the citadel) will be discussed in the context of the new society shaped by major political, economic, social and cultural elements. An attempt will be made to identify a semiotics of urban and domestic space specific to Islamic societies. The case of four capitals will be addressed in detail: Cairo, Dubai, Istanbul, Palermo.
The course will also critically address the concept of the 'Islamic city', from the nineteenth-century 'orientalist' vision to its contemporary formulations.
Reference texts, to be found on MOODLE platform:

J. Abu-Lughod, The Islamic City: Historical Myth, Islamic Essence, and Contemporary Relevance,”International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, May, 1987, pp. 155-176 (pdf)

M. Apaydin, Islamic city: a rhetorical argument or a political tool?, Al-Machriq, 2015, V. 89/1, pp. 313-328 (pdf)

Gideon Avni, “From Polis to Madina” Revisited – Urban Change in Byzantine and early Islamic Palestine, JRAS, Series 3, 21, 3 (2011), pp. 301–329 (pdf)

Jere L. Bacharach,The court-citadel: an Islamic urban symbol of power, in Urbanism in Islam, III, Tokyo 1989, pp. 206-245 (pdf)

A. Bagnera, From a small town to a capital: the urban evolution of Islamic Palermo (9th-mid 11th century), in A. Nef (ed.), A companion to Medieval Palermo, Leiden e Boston, 2013, pp. 61-88 (pdf)

D. Behrens-Abouseif, S. Denoix, J.-Cl. Garcin, Le Caire, in Grandes villes méditerranéennes du monde musulman médiéval, Roma, 2000, pp. 177-203 (pdf)

Doris Behrens-Abouseif, The Mamluk City, in AAVV, The City in the Islamic World, Leiden and Boston, 2008, pp. 295-316 (pdf)

P. Cuneo, Storia dell’Urbanistica. Il mondo Islamico, Bari, 1986, pp. 368-378 (pdf)
Deeba Haider, The growing pains of Dubai: a city in search of its identity, in AAVV, The city in the Islamic World, Leiden and Boston, 2008, pp. 1063-1084 (pdf)

H. Inalcik, Istanbul, EI2: solo gli argomenti trattati, e cioè paragrafi 2-5 (pdf)

H. Kennedy, From polis to madina: Urban change in late antique and early Islamic Syria, Past and Present 106, 1985, pp. 3-27 (pdf)

Keith Olroyd-Robinson, The urban architecture of al bastakiyyah, in Salma Samar Damluji (ed.), The architecture of the Arab United Emirates, Reading (UK), 2006, pp. 179-196 (pdf)

Z. Othman, R. Aird, L. Buys, Privacy, modesty, hospitality, and the design of Muslim homes: a literature review, Frontiers of Architectural Research 4, 2015, pp. 12–23 (pdf)

D. Pinson, Un habitat ‘occidentalisé’ subverti par la ‘tradition’, in Monde Arabe, Maghreb-Machreq 143, 1994/1, pp. 190-203 (pdf)

A.F. Sayyed e R.-P. Gayraud, Fustat-Le Caire à l’époque fatimide, in Grandes villes méditerranéennes du monde musulman médiéval, Roma, 2000, pp. 135-156 (pdf)

Serena Vicari, Che cosa è la città, Dispensa di Sociologia, Milano Bicocca (pdf)

S. Yerasimos, Istanbul, VIII. Monuments, EI2 supplementi (pdf)
Learning is verified in two complementary ways:
A. 35% of final mark
The student is required to submit an essay at least one week before the day of the oral examination, on a city of his/her choice with the previous agreement of the teacher. The student may also decide to give a presentation instead.
In this work the student will have to show that he/she has acquired the necessary critical skills and tools to face the study of a city in the Islamic world, and to define its characteristics in relation to the interpretative models that had been proposed.
B) 65% of final mark
At the oral examination the student will be required to illustrate the topics treated in the course of the lectures, with the help of images.
This part of the exam aims to verify that the student has acquired a basic knowledge of the history of the studies, of the development of the four capitals examined in detail and about the main problems related to them.
Frontal lessons will be illustrated with images, available on the MOODLE e-learning platform. Part of the course will be seminar-based, and students will be asked to contribute to discussions on specific topics and to prepare a presentation.
An essay (or a presentation) should be submitted to undertake the oral examination. See above for details

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Cities, infrastructure and social capital" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 09/04/2018