A Contribution to the Concept of Cultural Capital: Reproduction of Mukhtasars in the Intellectual Circles of the Mamluk

In recent years, Pierre Bourdieu’s views on social structure and order, consisting of reproduction, competition, and struggle in education and various cultural fields, attracted the attention of modern researchers in understanding the socio-intellectual life of the Mamluks. Bourdieu’s methodology, which usually involved criticisms of existing assump- tions, was based on investigating each subject in its context. His explanations for determining the social order among complex social relations played an essential role in under- standing the data in the Mamluk texts. This paper benefits from Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capital and reproduc- tion to understand the production of knowledge in the so- cio-intellectual life of the Mamluk and tries to base the textual reproduction in the intellectual circles of the Mamluk on the mukhtasar.

The study proposes a quadruple categorization of the mukhtasar, which are claimed to be the primary texts of the cultural activities in the Mamluk period. Accordingly, the effect of mukhtasars produced by the Mamluk ulama concerning the transfer and transformation of knowledge are among the most significant matters emphasized. Firstly, the study discusses the significance of the commentaries written by the Mamluk cultural elite on mukhtasars in the transfer of knowledge. Secondly, the contribution of the summarizations performed on mukhtasars to reproducing knowledge is examined. Thirdly, mukhtasars introduced by the ulama belonging to four madhhabs in Mamluk intellectual circles because of their search for a shared methodology are reviewed. Finally, independent mukhtasars produced during the Mamluk period are discussed within the histori- cal process. It should be noted that this paper, which is con- ducted to determine the significance of mukhtasars during the Mamluk period, recognizes the characteristics of higher education in the period within itself.

Büşra S. Kaya
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