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Updated: 8 hours 19 min ago

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

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 15:23

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.”

Documents 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

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 09:01

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.

The 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

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 11:01

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”

Tue, 11/08/2016 - 13:01

The 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

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 08:50

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!

 

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

Fri, 10/21/2016 - 11:53

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.

Official Gazettes & Civil Society Documentation online

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 09:39

The Official Gazettes & Civil Society Documentation online collection is a collection of official gazettes and historical government documentation from ten African and Persian Gulf countries. This project is the result of the digitization of official gazettes from the Center for Research Libraries‘ extensive collection of print and microfilm. CRL is alos planning on adding to the collection “by harvesting from the web more recent gazettes and related data published digitally”.

This collection includes issues from 24 different titles such as al-Jarīdah al-rasmīyah published in Libya, al-Waqāʼiʻ al-ʻIrāqīyah published in Iraq, or the Gazette of the Democratic Republic of the Sudan. Documents can either be read online or downloaded (full issue or a selection of pages) in PDF format.

Funding for digitization and hosting of the Official Gazettes & Civil Society Documentation collection was provided in part by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Centre for Research Libraries Middle Eastern & South Asian collections

Fri, 10/07/2016 - 09:44

Founded in 1949, the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is an international consortium of over 200 universities, colleges, and independent research libraries in the U.S., Canada, India, Germany and Hong Kong. Since its foundation, CRL has been supporting both research and teaching in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, by preserving and making available to scholars a wide range of primary source materials from all over the world. Based in Chicago,IL, the Centre for Research Libraries is governed by a Board of Directors drawn from the academic community. McGill University has been a member of CRL since 1973.

In 2016, CRL’s collections include five million items -among which more than 38,000 foreign journals, and 800,000 foreign dissertations- and are built by experts working at major U.S. and Canadian research universities.

The Middle Eastern studies’ collection and the South Asian studies’ collection both make accessible invaluable primary sources, in particular runs of historical journals in Arabic, Urdu and Hindi that are not to be found anywhere else.

In addition, the Center for Research Libraries provides access to a number of digital collections. The Digital South Asia Library is a collaborative project developed with the University of Chicago that makes available to scholars monographs, journals, full-text dictionaries, bibliographies, images, maps, and statistical information from the colonial period through the present. The WNA-South Asian Newspapers collection is the third module of the World Newspaper Archive, and includes colonial-era titles in English, Bengali, and Gujarati, published in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka from 1864-1922. Among the key publications: Amrita Bazar Patrika (Calcutta), Bankura Darpana (Bankura), Madras Mail (Madras), Tribune (Lahore) and the Ceylon Observer (Sri Lanka).

Qantara.de : dialogue with the Islamic world

Fri, 09/30/2016 - 13:45

The German portal Qantara : dialogue with the Islamic world aims at promoting information, exchanges and intercultural dialogue with the Muslim worlds. Articles published on Qantara focus on social, political and  cultural news from the Arab world and the situation of Muslims in Europe, and particularly in Germany. Qantara project is co-sponsored by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Center for Political Education), Deutsche Welle, the Goethe Institut and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations), and funded by the German Foreign Office.

This portal gives access to a wide variety and a great quantity of articles that visitors can navigate using the search box to find articles related to their field of study, or interests. The interface is fully functional in three languages: Arabic, German, and English.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina digital assets repository

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 13:59

Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria, Egypt) digital assets repository gives free access to more than 137 000 ebooks full-text, among which 24 000 are in Arabic. In addition, it offers limited preview (5% of a title; minimum 10 pages) of over 230 000 copyrighted books, primarily in Arabic (200 000).

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina DAR book viewer provides very convenient features including:

  • Full text search within the book’s title, subject, keywords, and content
  • Highlight of search results, and the possibility to highlight, underline and stick notes
  • Single page or two pages display, and one page at a time display to facilitate the opening of a book with a slow Internet connection
  • Multilingual interface.

This project, initiated in 1995 was implemented in 2002. The shared catalogue was developed in 2011 in collaboration with other institutions such as Internet Archive, the Arab World Institute (Paris, France), the Biodiversity Heritage Library, etc.

The interface is trilingual: Arabic, English and French.

Digital Vatican Library

Sat, 08/20/2016 - 10:29

Started in 2010, this massive digitization project of the Vatican Library aims to scan the entire library’s collection of manuscripts (80,000 codices), as well as other materials such as incunabula. The Vatican Library’s collection include a number of manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.

In August 2016, 5267 manuscripts and 658 incunabula were accessible on DigiVatLib:

As explained on the “About” page, “DigiVatLib is based on the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) technology, making digital materials easily accessible and usable.”

The DigiVatLib book reader not only allows users to zoom, browse and ‘turn pages’, but also to compare digital objects from different IIIF repositories of other digital libraries. It is possible to search, and discovery the digital collections using the simple and advanced search features. The guided navigation (‘faceted search’) relies on metadata elements to refine queries. The next release of DigiVatLib will include enhanced search functions,  digital galleries, and a news section.

The interface is available in English, Italian and Japanese.

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