Mamluk history and culture (1250-1517)

Embedded in the rich traditions of the Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies, Islamic history research at UGent specialises in the history and culture of Egypt and Syria in the 'Mamluk' period (ca. 1250-1517 CE). 

In general, our research aims to reconsider and further current understandings of Mamluk social and cultural history, questioning standard assumptions of Mamluk singularity and reconnecting it with the wider late medieval and early modern world through the novel paradigm of the longstanding and dynamic history of the Sultanate of Cairo.

This has emerged out of the research pathway followed by the group’s Principal Investigator, Jo Van Steenbergen, and is being pursued in various research projects on Mamluk political, social and cultural history that have particular theoretical reflections and methodological approaches in common (social constructivism, prosopography, social network analysis, social semiotics, narratology, discourse analysis…).

Our research is organised around the following interlocking actions and themes:

  • Prosopography and Mamluk Digital Humanities
  • Power, social formations, practices, and institutions, and state formation in late medieval Egypt and Syria (MPC)
  • Truth, knowledge practices, and texts in the late medieval Arabo-Islamic world (MCM)

For more information on our current major research project, MMS-II, see  (including blogposts and podcasts)