CALL FOR PAPERS – International Conference “Music, Art and Spirituality in Central Asia”

The Intercultural Institute for Comparative Music Studies (IISMC) of the Giorgio Cini Foundation

in cooperation with
Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI)
Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

promotes a CALL FOR PAPERS for the

International Conference
Music, Art and Spirituality in Central Asia
(29 – 31 October 2015)

Following the successful 2012 conference ‘Musical Geographies of Central Asia’, hosted by the Institute of Musical Research, University of London, thisVenice-based conference hosted by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini will adopt a more cross disciplinary approach, a distinctive feature of the IISMC, in order to examine the relations between Music, the Arts and spirituality in Islamic Central Asia. This cross-disciplinary approach encourages the participation of musicologists, musicians, historians of art, poetry and literature, and scholars of spiritual practices in Central Asia.

Venice itself, a place connoted by its beauty and by its millenarian rapports with Central Asia, guides the aesthetic approach of the conference. It will be held in the beautiful site of the San Giorgio Maggiore island and will be accompanied by concerts of Central Asian music. Participants will have the opportunity to be hosted at set price in the Residenza of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, on the Island of San Giorgio.

Through time Central Asia has been a crossroads of peoples, traditions and cultures where the relationships between the arts and spirituality are close and multivalent: the texts sung in classical maqām musical traditions were often composed by well known poets: miniatures often depict gatherings with music or musical instruments: sung texts often have spiritual meanings, and specific musical repertories are listened to in spiritual gatherings. Miniatures paintings, calligraphy and architecture could be entirely devoted to Sufi practices. These relationships cut across sedentary and nomadic peoples, speakers of Indo-European and Turkic languages.

The main countries of reference will be the former Soviet Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, Western Iran and Afghanistan. The conference aims to locate music, art and spiritual practices within their cultural, political and ideological environments. It aims to question the boundaries between the secular and the sacred, the traditional and the contemporary. It will explore the ways in which religious and aesthetic ideologies and practices are shared, reflected and refracted across different cultures and different peoples, across the rural / urban divide, and at the meeting of Islam and other religious and spiritual traditions. Papers are invited to address the following themes:
• Art and music as spiritual techniques
• The aesthetic dimension of spiritual practices
• The material and immaterial legacy of Sufism
• Poetry and mysticism
• Historical texts and contemporary re-imaginings
• Spirituality and the arts across borders

Please submit your paper abstract of 3-400 words to Giovanni De Zorzi ( by March 31, 2015.

Scientific board: Anna Contadini (SOAS, University of London) Giovanni De Zorzi (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) Rachel Harris (SOAS, University of London) Alexandre Papas (CNRS Paris)