Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiographies

October 17-19, 2019

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

*Please note that tickets for Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiographies only give admission to the sessions taking place on 18-19 October.

The sessions on 17 October will only be available online.

This annual exploratory and informal workshop offers the opportunity to reflect on methodologies, research agendas, and case studies for investigating history writing in Arabic in the Middle East and North Africa in any period from the seventh century to the present. 

Papers will elucidate the following sorts of questions:

Through what practices of writing or otherwise encoding the past and of remembering and forgetting, have different groups in the Middle East and North Africa viewed their pasts?

At different times and places, how have the significant contours, events and actors in their histories been seen? Was the significant past the same for court historians as for literary historians; for bureaucrats as for the military; for Sufis as for Muslim lawyers and Traditionists?

How did non-Muslims and Muslims, men and women, adherents of different sectarian or juristic traditions, or speakers of different languages, within societies that became “Islamic” imagine the shape and meaning of their specific societies’ own pasts, and their relation to the universal history of the Islamic community?

How have urban and rural people, workers and peasants, the religiously educated and the technocratic elite, developed different ways of writing, remembering, or commemorating particular events in, or the broad sweep of, local, national, or “Islamic” history?

In what ways do educational institutions, museums, media organisations and proponents of heritage use history writing in Arabic to shape loyalties and senses of belonging in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe?  

Arabic Pasts is co-organised by Sarah Bowen Savant (AKU-ISMC), Hugh Kennedy (SOAS) and James McDougall (Oxford), and funded by ERC.


To attend in person (18-19 October), please click here.

To attend online (17 October), please click here.


Atrium Conference Room,
Aga Khan Centre,
10 Handyside Street,
London N1C 4DN