New Exhibition: If Walls Could Speak: the History of Morrice Hall

If Morrice Hall’s walls could speak, you would hear the story of faculty and students of the Presbyterian College of Montreal, of wounded soldiers returning from war overseas, and of members of the International Labour Organization seeking a safe space to work during war-time.

Morrice Hall interior during International Labour Organization occupation (1940)

Today home to McGill’s Islamic Studies Library, the Institute of Islamic Studies, and the English department’s Tuesday Night Cafe Theatre, Morrice Hall was built in 1882, as a home for the Presbyterian College. Named in honour of David Morrice, then-Chairman of the College’s Board of Management and generous donator of $80,000, Morrice Hall was an extension to the original College building, itself built in 1873.

Drawing of Morrice Hall – Presbyterian College Journal, vol. 5, no. 3 (1885), p. 86

Presenting a mixture of photos, publications, plans, and maps spanning 135 years, If Walls Could Speak will take you through the major moments in the history of Morrice Hall: from its foundation, to expansion, to the interruptions of war, to the demolition of the original building and the renovations that created the space we know in 2018.

Curated by Islamic Studies Library’ staff -Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian, Jillian Mills, Anaïs Salamon-, this exhibit offers a unique experience making materials discoverable simultaneously in a physical display and on a touch table.

Touch Table Exhibit capture (2018) – credit: Greg Houston


Title: If walls could speak: the History of Morrice Hall
Dates: February 19, 2018-July 15, 2018, during opening hours
Location: Islamic Studies Library, 1st floor of Morrice Hall

Sanduq el-Dunia

Sanduq el- Dunia [literally “the box of the world”, meaning “the box of life”] ** is an interactive website that acts as a gateway to Cairo where its historical and future developments are debated, discussed and dreamed about, and where the art technology revives different layers of the city’s history and memory. Sanduq el-Dunia offers an exceptional experience of Cairo’s history by digitally navigating its past also this digital platform allows public to build a dynamic connection to their heritage.
Sanduq el-Dunia enables users to preview and explore the existing database of images, as well as the opportunity to contribute to the database by uploading their own images. It contains images reflecting both ancient and modern Cairo.

The idea of creating Sanduq El-Dunia dates back to Egypt’s 25 January revolution in 2011. The images and stories from Tahrir Square formed the inspiration for this project with the idea that “culture is for all” and the objective to “democratize the production of a collective memory, history and knowledge”.

This project is presented on two platforms:

  • The first is the website that acts as an interactive platform with a mini cityscape
  • The second platform –mini Sanduq el-Dunia– presents an interactive preview wall on a 75” touchscreen.

Two main collaborative partners in this project with Sanduq el-Dunia are the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI) and the Commercial International Bank (CIB). DEDI is located in Cairo and is an intergovernmental body with the goal of promoting political and cultural understanding between Denmark and Egypt and between Europe and the Arab World; The Commercial International Bank (CIB) one of the leading private banks in Egypt.

Sanduq el-Dunia’s mission is to:

  • “Create an interactive, innovative and multidimensional public platform that reflects the cultural and natural diversity of Cairo, its inhabitants, and their living memory
  • Celebrate and highlight the immense and diverse riches in archaeology, architecture, arts, culture and social-political movements, amongst others present in Cairo.
  • Build strong networks among all stakeholders (governmental, cultural institutions, civil society organizations, businesses, educational institutions, artists, Galleries) and democratize the production of and access to collective memory, history, and knowledge.”

The way that Sanduq el Dunia chose to approach the history and culture of the city is influenced by an award-winning project called the “Wall/ Næggen” produced by the Museum of Copenhagen with Gibson Group.

Below one can watch the Sanduq el- Dunia project in Copenhagen:

**Sanduq el-Dunia refers to a well-known form of play (story telling) in the Arab world-which was presented in days past yet continues until today- this form of play works with “schematized, visually abstracted figures, and partly improvised dialogues.” It is linked to an older theatrical performance called shadow play, which is usually being played during occasions, such as private celebrations or religious holidays in cafes. More information in this regard can be found in the following resources:

Shafik, Viola 1998. Arab Cinema History and Cultural I. American University of Cairo, Egypt. link

Haghani, Fakhri, “The “New Woman” on the Stage: The Making of a Gendered Public Sphere in Interwar Iran and Egypt.” Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2008. Link

 

Raseef 22 / رصيف 22

Raseef 22 [Sidewalk 22 (as the number of countries in the Arab League)] is a collaborative information platform that emerged in the spirit of the Arab revolutions. Officially launched in Lebanon in August 2013, Raseef 22 offers independent and critical news and views on social, political and cultural movements active in the Arab world. In addition to journalists, writers and artists contributing articles, the platform is maintained and its content curated by an editorial board of fifteen people.

The website is bilingual, English and Arabic, however at the time of our visit, there was much more content available in Arabic than in English. One hopes this will be developped in the future.

Navigating Raseef 22 is very easy, thanks to a single top menu highlighting categories of publications: Life, Politics, Culture, Economy, Blog and Videos. Users can also subscribe to receive a weekly selection of topics, and follow Raseef22 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Last, people eager to contribute can submit theit articles (in .docx format) directly from the Contribute page.

Digital Library of the Middle East

DLME is a response to the current threats in the form of destruction, looting and illegal trade to the cultural heritage of the Middle East.

The digital Library of the Middle East aims to federate different types of cultural heritage material consisting of archives, manuscripts, museum objects, media and archeological and intangible heritage collections. The DLME implements international cultural preservation goals by providing accessibility and urging documentation and digitization; contributing to security and sustainability by encouraging inventory creation, cataloguing, documentation and digitization of collections as well as forming a community of interest that seeks collaboration among people, organization and countries who value this heritage; which in returns can help mitigate looting and the illegal resale of heritage materials.

The digital platform of the DLME brings together digital records of accessible artifacts ranging across twelve millennia. It provides metadata for each objects that describes various aspects of the artifact or document, it might include its contested meaning or significance, its history and its provenance when available. This platform is searchable, also the collection is classified based on different criteria such as Language, type, date, creator, medium and etc.The Digital Library of the Middle East is continuously developing and progressing through scholarly inputs, crowd-sourcing and new knowledge discovered through its use.

New Publication: The Dialectical Forge, by Dr. Walter Edward Young

The Dialectical Forge: Juridical disputation and the evolution of Islamic law, published in 2017, is the first monograph of Dr. Walter Young (although he has a number of other works in preparation, see below), graduate of the Institute of Islamic Studies. This book is a revised version of Dr. Young’s 2012 Ph.D. thesis, supervised by Prof. Robert Wisnovsky and Prof. Wael Hallaq, and is the 9th volume in Springer’s “Logic, argumentation & reasoning” series.

We had the occasion to ask the author a few questions regarding his monograph in a short email interview:

JM: This is a revised version of your Ph.D. thesis? What aspects have changed between the two versions?


WY
: Yes, significantly revised. Among other revisions: 

  1. It is a single volume—the dissertation’s second volume (the translation of the Ikhtilāf al-ʿIrāqiyyīn /al-ʿIrāqiyyayn) has been mostly excised;
  2. The focus throughout is maintained almost solely on juridical dialectic (no treatment of theological or philosophical dialectic, apart from Aristotle);
  3. The case studies have been expanded and all now appear with full prose analyses;
  4. A new section detailing Abū Isḥāq al-Shīrāzī’s theory of qiyās has been appended.

JM: What can you tell us about this book?

WY: The real aim of the book is to bring juridical dialectic into the limelight as a key dynamic in the shaping not only of substantive rulings (fiqh, furūʿ), but of legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh) and dialectical theory (jadal/munāẓara) itself.

In fact, in my view, and I believe it is supported by mountains of evidence and obvious to most who consider it, the exigencies of dialectical disputation left their marks on all Islamicate intellectual projects whose scholars engaged in it. The study of the theory and practice of Islamicate dialectics should, in my view, provide essential concepts and tools for exploring, analyzing, and comprehending all such Islamic sciences which may in any way be qualified as “argumentative” (i.e., pretty much everything). It should therefore be a thriving discipline, but remains understudied—in fact practically unknown in the larger field of Islamic Studies (despite some excellent contributions in the last four decades). So a key aim of the Dialectical Forge (and pretty much all of my work) is to promote the study of Islamic dialectics, and to try to get scholars excited about it and involved in it. One way to do this, I think, is by showcasing the high level of sophistication attained by dialecticians (practitioners and theoreticians), by publishing and analyzing both the theory literature and example/historical disputations.

In this spirit of inspiring scholars to be excited about and involved in the study of Islamicate dialectics, Dr. Young has created an impressive website: the Society for the Study of Islamicate Dialectical Disputation (SSIDD). This site hosts information and resources on the study of Islamicate dialectical theories, practices and contexts, as well as a discussion forum for scholars to share ideas and sources.

JM: What drew you to this area of research?

WY: Two key factors—via the work of two esteemed advisors, mentors, and friends—drew me to the study of Islamicate dialectical disputation in general, and juristic dialectics in particular:

  1. A brilliant (and for me, career-changing) class on Islamic dialectical theory (especially the ādāb al-baḥth) conducted by Rob Wisnovsky;
  2. The teachings and publications of Wael Hallaq in the areas of legal and dialectical theory.

And I was very privileged to have both Prof. Wisnovsky and Prof. Hallaq as advisors to my dissertation.

We wish to congratulate Dr. Young on his monograph, and thank him kindly for his comments!

Other publications by Dr. Walter Edward Young

Articles:

  • “Mulāzama in Action in the Early Ādāb al-Baḥth;” Oriens 44.3-4 (2016) [special issue: Major Issues and Controversies of Arabic Logic], pp. 332-385.

Forthcoming or in preparation:

  • (critical edition and translation) On the Protocol for Dialectical Inquiry (Ādāb al-Baḥth): A Critical Edition and Parallel Translation of the Sharḥ al-Risāla al-Samarqandiyya by Quṭb al-Dīn al-Kīlānī (fl. ca. 830/1427), Prefaced by a Critical Edition and Parallel Translation of its Grundtext: the Risāla fī Ādāb al-Baḥth by Shams al-Dīn al-Samarqandī (d.722/1322); Brill (Islamicate Intellectual History) [planned submission Winter 2018]
  • (critical edition and study) Scholarly Contexts of the Early Ādāb al-Baḥth: An Intellectual Prosopography Drawn from the Margins of Quṭb al-Dīn al-Kīlānī’s Sharḥ al-Risāla al-Samarqandiyya, with Critical Editions of its Common Glosses; Brill (Islamicate Intellectual History) [planned submission Summer 2018]
  • (monograph) The Jadal Primer: An Introduction to Classical Sunnī Juridical Dialectic [in preparation, pending funding]
  • (article) “Al-Samarqandī’s Third Mas’ala: Juridical Dialectic Governed by the Ādāb al-Baḥth;” Oriens (Spring 2018; special issue: Uṣūl and Falsafa in Post-Classical Islamic Scholarship)
  • (article) “Have You Considered (A-ra’ayta)? Don’t You See/Opine (A-lā Tarā)? A Working Typology of Ra’ā Formulae in Early Islamic Juridical Disputation;” in Y. Papadogiannakis and B. Roggema, eds., Patterns of Argumentation and Exchange of Ideas in Late Antiquity and Early Islam; Routledge (Centre for Hellenic Studies)

The Dialectal Forge is available through McGill Libraries, as well as through Amazon.ca and Springer.

Visualizing Palestine

Launched in 2012, Visualizing Palestine is the first project of Visualizing Impact (VI), an independent, non-profit “laboratory for innovation” (…) aiming at: “breaking new grounds in socially aware data science, technology, and design” and “mainstreaming marginalized perspectives on critical social issues.”

Visualizing Palestine publishes data-driven visual tools, in Arabic and English, providing context and analysis to mainstream coverage of news related to Palestine. The multidisciplinary team (scholars, designers, technologists, and communications specialists) collaborates with both individuals (civil society actors, advisors) and organizations to support their impact in advocating for justice and equality. In addition, their by-weekly infographics are heavily used for teaching in higher education, and exhibitions. Last, Visualizing Palestine regularly facilitates storytelling workshops (in Beirut, Lebanon), and can provide student groups with a VP Toolkit to help raise awareness on campus.

Visualizing Palestine is co-funded by individual benefactors, grants and sponsors, as well as by crowdfunding efforts.

Ganjoor, collection of Persian literary works

Ganjoor is an online open access collection of Persian literature. This collection provides access to a diverse and extensive collection of the literary works of Persian poets. Ganjoor is the result of a collective effort whose purpose is to gather thousands of treasures from classical and modern Persian literature and to provide free access to this valuable collection. All the provided information in this website is in Persian.

In addition to the main collection, Ganjoor offers several other interesting features such as: Library, Statistics, Music Index, Random line of poetry, and more.

Lists of poets and their literary works are available in the Library, and Statistics sections.

The Music Index section lists poems that were used in different musical compositions or songs. In this section, the list of poems is categorized according to the artist or band’s name.

Ganjoor is even accessible on Facebook, where you can listen to famous poems read by native Persian speakers!

A Bali-inspired Musical Suggestion

On this sunny Friday afternoon, we would like to offer you a musical suggestion for your listening pleasure: Colin McPhee’s Balinese Ceremonial Music for Two Pianos

Colin McPhee was a Canadian composer, pianist, writer and ethnomusicologist born in Montreal in 1900. He spent several years, from 1931-1938, in Indonesia, mostly Bali and Java studying the art and music from these regions; the tones and rhythms of gamelan ensembles inevitably influenced many of his compositions. McPhee wrote a number of books on his experience in Indonesia, including the hefty Music in Bali: A study in form and instrumental organization in Balinese orchestral music.

In this YouTube recording, Colin McPhee performs his piece on piano accompanied by the renowned British composer, Benjamin Britten. Another recording of this piece, as well as other compositions by McPhee, is available through McGill Libraries on CD, and by online streaming: Tabuh-Tabuhun and Symphony No.2, Balinese Ceremonial Music.

Image result for balinese gamelan

Balinese gamelan instruments, from http://www.soniccouture.com

You can read more on the music of Southeast Asia in the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, v.4, and on Colin McPhee here, or on these sites:

And for books on gamelan, music and ensembles, see here. For information on l’Université de Montréal’s Gamelan ensemble, Giri Kedaton:

Majallat al-Adab Archives

The literary and cultural journal al-Adab was founded in 1953 by the famous Lebanese novelist, short-stories writer, journalist and translator Suhayl Idris (1925-2008). A monthly periodical, Majallat al-Adab is still considered one of the leading literary journals.Since 2015, al-Adab has been published electronically. But back issues (1953-2012) are now also available online, on the al-Adab Archives website. Issues can be browsed by date of publication, and articles can be individually downloaded and saved as PDF, or printed.

Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative

The Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI), a strategic multi-year program, launched in 2009 aiming to raise awareness about the value and importance of preservation of the region’s photographic heritage. Since then, it developed into a multi-faceted initiative expanding over research and capacity building objectives.

The Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative consist of 3 parts:

  • MEPPI courses
    Since the beginning of this program, three introductory photograph preservation courses have been held to train collection personnel in the region. Up until now, more than 60 professionals from institutional and private collections in the Middle East benefited from the training. Topics covered are as follow: an overview of the technical history of photography and photographic processes; an introduction to the history of photography; digitization fundamentals; emergency preparedness and response; preservation planning and the care, handling and storage of photographic materials
  • MEPPI survey
    The MEPPI survey focus is on identifying signification photograph collection in the Middle East and North Africa in order to develop an online directory of collections
  • MEPPI Symposium
    Between 2015 and 2017, MEPPI focused on the long-term preservation of photographs in the Middle East. Intensive workshops, and a symposium were held in 2017 on the photographic legacy of the Middle East and North Africa.