The Arabic Pasts Conference, held in the new Aga Khan Centre in London on the 12th and 13th of October, was a success!

Organized by Hugh Kennedy, James Mc Dougalls, Sarah Savant and Claire Savina, this exploratory workshop-conference was to reflect on methodologies, research agendas, and case studies for investigating history writing in Arabic in the Middle East and North Africa from the seventh century to the present.

Investigations and presentations included the following 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?

After two days of an intense and fruitful workshop, we hope to welcome you next year for the third edition of Arabic Pasts.

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