Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Ibn Darraj al-Qastalli Praises al-Mansur: Imperial Poetics & the Quest for Power in al-Andalus


Modern Languages & Literatures


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



This paper examines Ibn Darraj al-Qastalli's nuniyyah of 387/997, presented to al-Mansur, who was the de facto ruler of al-Andalus until his death in 1002. While the ode is typically referred to in the context of the Santiago de Compostela battle, which took place in 997, this paper will focus on the image of the hero and the heroic quest as a formative argument for al-Mansur's power and legitimacy. In addition, the paper will argue that the ode, while appearing to document the battle in question, is not about the battle itself. Rather, in light of the political and historical context, the paper will argue that the ode is actually serving as the initial step in negotiating and determining the question of al-Mansur's succession in al-Andalus. Using the body of akhbar (anecdotes) and the historical context surrounding this particular period, this paper uses speech act theory as a framework for showing the performative power of the Arabic ode, which simultaneously declares the legitimacy of the patron and the mutual bond of obligation that the ode brings to the fore. The paper will examine the symbolism of the poet's pledge of allegiance not only to al-Mansur but also to his two sons Abd al-Malik and Abd al-Rahman. The paper will build on a variety of recent works such as The Poetics of Islamic Legitimacy by Suzanne Stetkevych, Epic and Empire by David Quint, How to do Things with Words by Austin and Speech Acts and Literary Theory by Petrey.

Conference Name

Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting

Conference Location

San Diego, CA

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