Archnet

Launched in 2002, Archnet is the world’s largest open access architectural library focusing on Muslim societies. A shared initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Archnet aims at providing easy access to scholarly articles, data and original research that can be used for teaching, scholarship, and professional work in the fields of architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design in the Muslim worlds. Archnet is a continually growing resource, thanks to numerous donations of historic archives and documentation. In sum, “Archnet provides a bridge for interested persons to learn how to enhance the quality of the built environment, to compensate for lack of resources for students and faculty in academic institutions, and to highlight the culture and traditions of Islam.”

archnetArchnet is a fully searchable database offering different search options:

  • the Research page allows visitors to do a text search (basic or advanced) applying geographical and time filters
  • the Timeline allows to visualize “a linear outline of the history of art, architecture and urbanism in Muslim societies”
  • materials grouped in collections such as Women in Architecture, Tangier Then and Now, or Hassan Fathy can be accessed directly via the Collections page
  • additional resources and pedagogical tools are also made available through the Resources and Pedagogy pages.

The website is in English.

New acquisition: al-Manhal, a database of Arabic books & journals

McGill Library has now subscribed to the Islamic Studies Collection of AlManhal database which gives access to thousands of electronic scholarly books and journals in Arabic. The collection is full-text searchable in English and in Arabic, and browsable by subject, by title or by publisher. Documents can be read online, listened to, downloaded in PDF, or printed. And the reader offers interesting features such as sharing, annotating, citing or highlighting the text. Check it out, and let us know what you think!

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Bülent Ecevit articles online

bulent-ecevit-articles-arts-and-politics-in-the-1950sThe Bülent Ecevit articles database includes 1,500 Turkish- and English-language articles written by Bülent Ecevit between 1950 and 1961, most of them published in the prominent daily paper Ulus. While much is known of Ecevit’s long career as a statesman–beginning with his service as Minister of Labor 1961 and lasting well into the 2000s–this early chapter in his life remains largely unknown. Yet the cultural commentary, art criticism, political analyses and travel writings that he produced in the 1950s constitute an extraordinarily prolific and consistent body of work on the importance of civic culture and democracy. The columns reveal the seeds of his later political thought, as well as giving a new perspective on the importance of the arts to his intellectual life.

All original research has been carried out by Sarah-Neel Smith, research director for the Ecevit digitization project, with the collaboration of SALT Research and the Rahşan Ecevit-Bülent Ecevit Foundation of Science and Art & Culture (Ankara). Over a four year period, SALT Research scanned all of Ecevit’s publicly available writings and converted them to fully searchable texts which match the originals. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Foundation founding member Emrehan Halıcı, Rahşan Ecevit, and her sister Asude Aral, who facilitated this project by supplying all the missing documents, the database encompasses Ecevit’s entire corpus of writing from the 1950s. All data has been compiled with permission of Rahşan Ecevit-Bülent Ecevit Foundation of Science and Art & Culture.

Sarah-Neel Smith, research director of the Ecevit digitization project, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she teaches modernism in a global and comparative perspective. The Ecevit online archive is the direct result of Smith’s ongoing research, begun in 2012, into Bülent Ecevit’s involvement in international debates about democracy and art after WWII. Her current book project How to Build An Art World: Art & Politics in 1950s Turkey investigates Ecevit’s place in the context of an emergent modern art world in the post-war period.

 

Records of the Kurds: territory, revolt and nationalism, 1831-1979

The Islamic Studies Library is currently trialing the Records of the Kurds: territory, revolt and nationalism, 2831-1979. British documentary sources collection. This set of 13 volumes includes documents tracing “early insurgencies of the Kurdish people directed against regional and metropolitan powers, their inter-relations with neighbouring tribes and other ethnic groups, while also depicting the extent of territories pertaining to the Kurdish homeland. The period witnessed the origins of Kurdish nationalist sentiments through a series of disparate revolts in the 19th century, through to a larger, more cohesive and discernible movement launched in the aftermath of World War One.”

fireshot-screen-capture-002-welcome-to-east-view-cambridge-archive-editio_-dlib_eastview_com_browse_books_1670_searchlink%2fsearch%2fsimpleDocuments are in Arabic, English and Kurdish (Sorani). The trial will be open until January 9th, 2017: try it out and let us know what you think!

Naval Kishore Press Bibliographie

Naval Kishore Press was founded in Lucknow, Northern India, in 1858 by Munshi Newal Kishore (3 January 1836-19 February 1885), and is considered the oldest printing and publishing house in the area. Naval Kishore Press published more than 5000 books in numerous languages including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, English, Marathi, Punjabi, Pashto, Persian, Sanskrit, and Urdu.

search-homeThe Naval Kishore Press Bibliographie is a joint effort of Heidelberg University Library, and Heidelberg University South Asia Institute (SAI). It serves as a bibliographic database recording books and journals published by Naval Kishore Press, accessible in libraries around the world. Although the bibliography is still under construction, it includes 1.300 entries. And visitors are encouraged to suggest additional titles via email.

Bibliographic records can be searched by title, author, subject, ISBN/ISSN, series, year of publication, or browsed by language, format or provenance.

Titles that have been digitized and are available online can be accessed on Heidelberg University Library’s website Literature on South Asia – digitized / Subject / Collection.

Latest publications by Institute of Islamic Studies’ faculty members

Congratulations to Prof. Michelle Hartman, Prof. Laila Parsons and Prof. Robert Wisnowsky on their latest publications:

  • Ḥumaydān, Īmān, and Michelle Hartman (translation). The Weight of Paradise. Northampton, MA: Interlink Books, 2016.

Iman Humaydan’s Weight of Paradise narrates the story of two women set against the post-war backdrop of 1990s Beirut. While making a documentary film about the reconstruction of downtown Beirut, Maya Amer stumbles upon a battered leather suitcase that will change her life forever. Inside it she finds letters, photographs, a diary, and an envelope labeled: Letters from Istanbul. The Weight of Paradise is both the story of Maya and her discovery, and also the story of the owner of these papers, Noura Abu Sawwan. A journalist, Noura fled Syria just before the Lebanese civil war to find greater freedom of expression. But as we learn from her diaries, her flight was also precipitated by her family’s denial of her sister’s suicide after she fell pregnant by a mukhabarat officer. The diaries lead us through the turmoil of Noura’s life first in Syria and then in Beirut: her family’s resistance to political repression in her childhood and adolescence, the passionate love story she lived with Kemal Firat, her Turkish soul mate and the author of the Letters from Istanbul and her commitment to writing against injustice, including publishing her sister’s tragic story. A multi-voiced, multi-genre narration, The Weight of Paradise interweaves the stories of these two women and the people who surround them within the fabric of Beirut in the civil war and its immediate aftermath. A love story as well as a story of women’s liberation and political freedom, the novel is also the tale of a city and country torn apart by repression, occupation, and war. Beirut, Damascus, and Istanbul are shown as vibrant locations where people resist state violence trying to live and thrive together across linguistic, ethnic, religious, and communitarian differences.

The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence, 1914-1948 (New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux/Hill & Wang, 2016) focuses on the life of Fawzi al-Qawuqji, the Arab nationalist and soldier who served as an officer in the Ottoman army during World War I; fought against the French in Syria during the rebellion of 1925-1927; fought against the British in Palestine during the Palestinian Revolt of 1936-39, and again in Iraq during the Rashid ‘Ali Coup of 1941; lived in exile in Nazi Germany during World War II; and led the Arab Salvation Army (Jaysh al-inqâdh) against the Haganah/IDF during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Using Qawuqji’s own archive to construct a detailed and carefully contextualized narrative of the journey that he made through certain moments, Parsons offers a glimpse of the complexity and contingency of the historical worlds he inhabited. The book has already been reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly (starred review), Kirkus, Booklist, and the New Yorker. It will also come out in the UK in January with Saqi Books.

Understanding how medieval textual cultures engaged with the heritage of antiquity (transmission and translation) depends on recognizing that reception is a creative cultural act (transformation). The essays in this volume focus on the people, societies and institutions who were doing the transmitting, translating, and transforming — the “agents”. The subject matter ranges from medicine to astronomy, literature to magic, while the cultural context encompasses Islamic and Jewish societies, as well as Byzantium and the Latin West. What unites these studies is their attention to the methodological and conceptual challenges of thinking about agency. Not every agent acted with an agenda, and agenda were sometimes driven by immediate needs or religious considerations that while compelling to the actors, are more opaque to us. What does it mean to say that a text becomes “available” for transmission or translation? And why do some texts, once transmitted, fail to thrive in their new milieu? This collection thus points toward a more sophisticated “ecology” of transmission, where not only individuals and teams of individuals, but also social spaces and local cultures, act as the agents of cultural creativity.

Call for papers: an international Conference on “Religion and the State”

call-of-papers-for-an-international-conference-on-religion-and-the-state-constitutionnetThe Arab Association of Constitutional Law and the Tunisian Association of Constitutional Law, with the support of the “Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change” at Harvard Law School, will be holding an international conference in Tunisia during 24-25 March 2017.  The conference title will be: “Religion and the State”.  In order to inform the discussions that will be taking place at the conference, the organisers are commissioning a number of papers, covering the following issues:

1.   Islam and the State

1.1 Post-2011 constitutional negotiations: Since 2011, the debates that took place over the role of Islam in Arab constitutions have frequently been controversial.  This paper should investigate the different methods that were used in the constitution-drafting processes. What are the constitutional options available to Muslim-majority countries in successfully negotiating this issue?

1.2 Secularism, Islam and constitutional law: This paper should survey whether constitutions in Muslim-majority countries currently feature or should feature counter-majoritarian safeguards designed to counteract the potential for theocratic encroachment.  It should also examine what the purpose of such safeguards should be, and in particular whether they can serve the purpose of transitioning towards state secularism within these countries’ constitutions or separating religion and politics.  The paper should also discuss how the relationship between religion and state is worded in comparative practice, particularly to protect state institutions and citizens’ rights from encroachment by religion.

1.3  Islam, democracy and human rights: Most muslim-majority states officially recognise Islam as the state religion and also enshrine liberal democratic principles within their constitutions, even as the larger debate over their compatibility continues. This paper should assess a) the empirical relation between Islamist governance and human rights and/or b) interpretive approaches that have been invoked at times by various state actors in order to reconcile the two.

2.    Islamic Constitutionalism

2.1 Islamic lawmaking: Many Islamic constitutions include a clause establishing “shari’a” or “principles of shari’a” as a/the primary source of legislation. This paper should discuss how legislatures and other lawmaking bodies have interpreted this mandate and how they have translated shari’a and the various schools of shari’a thought (madhahib) into unified, civic codes of law.

2.2 Judicial review: Just as it is empowered to review legislation generally for constitutional compliance, the judicial branch is tasked with holding the legislature accountable to shari’a supremacy clauses. In several states, however, the executive reserves the right to restrain or override this power. This paper should explore the methodology, independence, and activism of the judiciary in its exercise of this privilege along with the complementary checks wielded by the political branches. If appropriate, it might compare Islamic judicial review to more conventional forms of constitutional review or comment upon its impact on society.

2.3 The role of religious institutions: Some scholars have argued that Islamic jurists (ulama’) comprise a “fourth branch” of government in states founded upon Islamic principles. Depending on the state, clerics have alternately been granted sweeping executive authority, limited autonomy over certain religious matters adjudicated in specialized courts, or merely an advisory role to lay judges and lawmakers. In what circumstances is it appropriate to either reserve legal issues to the exclusive jurisdiction of the ulama’ or to seek their input?

3.   Islam and Social Cohesion

3.1 Religious freedom: This paper should discuss whether full religious freedom and equality is possible under Islamic rule, focusing on the condition of religious minorities and/or secularists. It should confront issues such as communitarian notions of citizenship, vestiges of the Ottoman millet system, blasphemy and apostasy laws, equality before the law, and conflict of religious law.

3.2 Women’s rights: This paper should examine the current status of and prospects for women’s rights under Islamic-influenced constitutional systems, engaging in debates surrounding areas such as family and inheritance law, modesty requirements, and political inclusion. It might also explore the avenues Muslim women have taken to advocate for their rights.

Application instructions

Individuals who are interested in participating in the conference must submit an abstract in accordance with the following instructions:

  1. If you are interested in carrying out any of the above studies, please send an abstract to conferences@dustour.org no later than 17:00 Tunis time on 18 November 2016.  Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words, which includes the research methodology and the main research question that will be addressed in the study.  Applicants should also send their CVs, including a list of publications, with their abstracts.
  2. Abstracts may be submitted by individuals, co-authors or institutions.  Membership in the Arab Association of Constitutional Law is not a requirement.
  3. Abstracts and papers are strongly encouraged to adopt a comparative approach.  Abstracts and papers that focus on individual countries will still be considered.
  4. Individuals from outside the Arab region who wish to submit an abstract that focuses on developments that are taking place outside the Arab region are encouraged to do so, while ensuring that all discussions are aimed towards furthering and enriching the discussion in the Arab region on the topics set out above.
  5. Abstracts may be submitted in Arabic or English.

The individuals who will be selected to carry out the above studies will be required to prepare oral presentations summarizing their findings at the conference.

Arab World Festival of Montreal 2016 – 17th edition

Looking for something to do this weekend, and in the coming days? Good News: the 17th edition of the Arab World Festival of Montreal starts tomorrow!

The Arab World Festival of Montreal (Festival du Monde Arabe de Montréal or FMA) is an event aiming at giving an opportunity to Arab and Western cultures to meet and exchange. The FMA proposes a myriad of events ranging from dance, music and theater productions to debates, conferences, lectures and films. Every year, the FMA invites artists, filmmakers and intellectuals from all cultural horizons, local and international broadcasters, and producers, in order to build a space dedicated to cultural exchange.

Check out the program, and enjoy!Festival du Monde Arabe 2016 - Homepage

 

جرائد : a database of Arabic newspapers of Ottoman and mandatory Palestine

Arabic Newspapers of Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine جرائد [Jara’id] is a database of Palestinian newspapers published between 1908 and 1948. This initiative, led by the National Library of Israel, consists in digitizing periodicals from its collections to make them widely available. If the first phase of the project focused on two date ranges: 1908-1920 and 1945-1948 -which explains why only a few years are currently accessible for some titles- but the goal is to continue digitizing in order to provide an exhaustive archive of the Ottoman and mandatory Palestine period.

The database currently gives access to 27 titles published in Jaffa, Jerusalem, Haifa, Bir Zeit, and other places. Among those, the visitor will find al-Nafais al-asriyah which is available from year 1908 to 1924, or Mir’at al-Sharq which is available from years 1919 to 1939. The viewer has interesting features:

  • a menu on the left hand-side of the screen to navigate journals and issues
  • two sets of arrows allowing to go from issue to issue, and to turn pages
  • a thumbnails view
  • the possibility to zoom in and out
  • a series of buttons to share (Twitter and Facebook), print, mail, download (in PDF), pin, link to a specific journal.

The website is trilingual: Arabic, English, Hebrew.