We are delighted to hold our third HSTEM seminar with Dr. Marwa Elshakry, of Columbia University. On Friday, May 9 at 4:30 PM in LL802 on the Lincoln Center Campus, Elshakry will discuss her paper “Translation Movements in History: Science and Civilization in Nineteenth Century Histories of Islam and Europe”. The commentator for this session will by Dr. Durba Mitra (Fordham History), who works on gender and medicine in South Asia. Attached below please find the seminar paper for discussion and a poster for distribution as widely as possible. We look forward to seeing you on Friday!
Download the full paper here: HSTEM 4 Elshakry,Translation Movements in History
“Translation Movements in History: Science and Civilization in Nineteenth Century Histories of Islam and Europe”
The history of the translation of Greek works into Arabic does
not figure much in early, Renaissance histories of the A rabs: George Sale, for instance, only alludes to this briefly in his History of the Arabs. Yet by the mid-twentieth centu ry one could scarcely find a “History of the Arabs” that did not include some refe rence to the idea of a “translation movement.” How did this happen ? This paper tries to answer this question by showing two things. Firstly, it investigates the rise of a new genre of universal histo ry fashioned by popular and professional historians and orientalists, in the late nineteenth century that focused on the genre of the “history of civilizatio ns.” Looking at the role assig ned to science in these, it sh ows, secondly, how these histories formed a criti cal backbone for the rise of the history of science as a discip line. And, more importantly or this story, it shows how this emphasis on the Graeco-Arabic translation movement proved critical for those seeking to write the history of science as a universal history of humanity.
Dr. Elshakry received her PhD from Princeton and is Associate Professor of History at Columbia University. Her work focuses on the history of science, technology, and medicine in the modern Middle East. and her first book, entitled, Reading Darwin in Arabic was published Dec 2013 with University of Chicago Press. This chapter is an excerpt from her next monograph.