HSTEM Part 2: Kueny on Medieval Muslim Paternity

HSTEM 2 poster, Kathryn KuenyThe second meeting of this semester’s faculty seminar on the History of Science, Technology, Environment, and Medicine on Tuesday March 11, 5:30PM at the Lowenstein Plaza View Room (12th floor) at the Lincoln Center Campus. HSTEM welcomes Kathryn Kueny of of the Theology Department to discuss here paper entitled: “I Know it When I See It: Dis/Similarity in Medieval Muslim Determinations of Paternity. The discussant will be Daisy Deomampo (Anthropology). Follow the link for more info, including the paper…

Abstract (the full paper is available here: Draft Paper HSTEM 3.11 (Kueny)):
” ‘I know it when I see it’: Dis/similarity in Medieval Muslim Determinations of Paternity”

Before blood tests, DNA testing, and close record keeping, resemblance was often utilized as the means through which paternity was secured. However, on what basis does a child look like his father? The answer to this question is dependent upon an ever-shifting set of criteria and authoritative voice, all of which affect the child’s physical appearance. This paper explores the rich rhetorical strategies medieval Muslim physicians and scholars adopt to establish paternity through the generation and determination of like features between fathers and children. I argue such strategies are informed by broader assumptions about male/female anatomy, wayward parental behavior, notions of piety, and the inherent fragility of masculinity and the patriarchal household. Observations for this discussion are drawn from a variety of medieval Muslim medical texts, bestiaries, ḥadith collections, and other legal and theological treatises.

Dr. Kueny is Associate Professor of Theology and Director of the Religoius Studies Program at Fordham. Her latest book Conceiving Identities: Maternity in Medieval Muslim Discourse and Practice came out in Oct 2013, and she is Series Editor of Bordering Religions, Fordham University Press.

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