Teaching Resources

This Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset (MCADD) consists of a collection of books, journals and maps related broadly to the Himalayas and its outlying attached ranges including the Hindu Kush, the Karakorams, the Pamirs, the Tian Shan and the Kuen Lun as well as the Tibetan highlands and the Tarim basin. These materials are housed in this site, and are freely available for personal non-commercial use and downloading.

Some of this material was originally downloaded from the Google Books website, but often this material from Google has been augmented by the addition of maps and other oversize materials that were excluded when the original Google scans were done and/or the addition of missing pages. For example, the Google scans of the 50 volumes of the Royal Geographical Society Journal, published between 1830 and 1880 do not include any of the oversize maps—these maps have all now been scanned and some 450 maps added in their proper location to each of the journal volume pdf files on the PAHAR website.

Various aids to searching specific topics, such as indexes of articles related to the MCADD geographic area (Himalaya, Tibet and Central Asia) have also been prepared for the more prolific journals, such as those of the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Central Asian Society, and the Asiatic Society of Bengal. (more…)

John Esposito at the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service has just provided a unique website to chart the pace of islamophobia in the media,among the general public and in academe. Check out his new site here.


Thinking About Tradition, Religion, and Politics in Egypt Today

by Talal Asad, Critical Inquiry

I have used the term “tradition” in my writings in two ways: first, as a theoretical location for raising questions about authority, time, language use, and embodiment; and second, as an empirical arrangement in which discursivity and materiality are connected through the minutiae of everyday living.[1] The discursive aspect of tradition is primarily a matter of linguistic acts passed down the generations as part of a form of life, a process in which one learns/relearns “how to do things with words,” sometimes reflectively and sometimes unthinkingly, and learns/relearns how to comport one’s body and how to feel in particular contexts. Embodied practices help in the acquisition of aptitudes, sensibilities, and propensities through repetition until such time as the language guiding practice becomes redundant. Through such practices one can change oneself—one’s physical being, one’s emotions, one’s language, one’s predispositions, as well as one’s environment. Tradition stands opposed both to empiricist theories of knowledge and relativist theories of justice. By this I mean first and foremost that tradition stresses embodied, critical learning rather than abstract theorization. Empiricist theories of knowledge assert the centrality of sensory experience and evidence, but in doing so they ignore the prior conceptualization carried by tradition. My sensory experience is incommensurable with yours. It is only through language (integral to a shared form of life), and the conceptualization that language makes possible, that we can develop argument and knowledge as collective processes. Critique is central to a living tradition; it is essential to how its followers assess the relevance of the past for the present, and the present for the future. It is also essential for understanding the nature of circumstance, and therefore the possibility of changing elements of circumstances that are changeable. Relativist theories of justice assert that “justice” is simply the name for the norms that actually guide and regulate a people’s form of life. And yet what other people consider to be justice is part of the circumstance that confront the followers of every living tradition. As such it constitutes a challenge to every critical tradition, an invitation to change contingent aspects of one’s tradition, or of the circumstances in which it is embedded, or both. This is not a challenge of abstract theories but of embodied (and yet criticizable) ways of life.

For the rest of this article, click here.

The Library of Congress has a very nice website with online resources regarding its collection of Near Eastern materials.

The online collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc is well worth checking out.

al-Qubba Husseiniya, a Shia shrine, being blown up in the city of Mosul.

Hollywood is known for creating absurd scenarios, especially with special effects of explosions and cars flying through the air. The real damage is done in war with bombs ripping apart buildings and bodies. And then there is the wanton destruction of buildings out of sheer hatred. The would-be caliphate that has taken nominal control of a large swathe of Syria and Iraq is an affront to everyone, including fellow Muslims in Syria and Iraq. There will be no new caliphate created out of such callous regard for human life and eventually the rebel leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will follow Saddam Hussein to the netherworld. But the destruction in the meantime is mean indeed. In addition to the men gunned down in Mosul and elsewhere, bulldozers and bombs are destroying some of the splendid Iraqi shrines from the real caliphates. It is a sad day (far too many sad days, weeks, months and years) for Syria, Iraq, Muslims worldwide and the entire world. But the leader of ISIS cannot erase history, no matter how many shrines and mosques he blows up.

Looking for Arabic poetry online. There are many, many sites, but one useful resource is adab.com, which is also available in English. The site boasts 19027 verses “bayt” in 451 poems for 46 poets. Check it out.

There is a new online resource on European humanism, available in English, Arabic and French. Here is the information about it:

Humanism is not simply a European phenomenon, product of the Renaissance. On the contrary, humanism, understood as both a philological science and a philosophical outlook, is found in all the cultures of the Mediterranean world, from its origins in Greek antiquity to its efflorescence in Quattrocento Italy and beyond. This postulate, explained in the introduction, is the basis of the Encyclopedia of Mediterranean Humanism. The ambition of this encyclopedia is to elucidate the diverse forms that this humanism has taken on in different contexts: classical Greek, Christian (oriental and Latin, patristic and post-patristic), Arabo-Islamic, Jewish, etc. The Encyclopedia offers, under the guidance of its editorial board, a collection of substantial articles which examine the concepts, themes, representations and notions which permeate the texts produced in these different cultures. It is hence not simply a dictionary with multiple entries on diverse topics, but also a real synthesis which presents the meaning and importance of Mediterranean Humanism by grounding it in history and by emphasizing its convergences, without hiding its divergences.

بعيدا عن أن تكون قد ظهرت في عصر النهضة أوأن تكون إمتيازا مقتصرا على أوروبا وحدها، الأنسنة في بعديها المعرفي الفيلولوجي والفلسفي، تَعْبُر كل ثقافات الفضاء المتوسطي، إنطلاقا من أصولها في العصر اليوناني القديم، وصولا إلى ازدهارها في إيطالية القرن الخامس عشر، وما بعده. هذه المسلمة -مفصلة في المدخل العام-، هي أصل موسوعة الانسنة المتوسطية التي تطمح إلى توضيح مختلف النماذج التي إكتستها: في السياق الإغريقي، المسيحي سواء كان كهنوتيا أو شرقيا ولاتيني، عربي اسلامي، عبري إلخ. تحت اشراف هيئة تحرير مختصة، توفر هذه الموسوعة مجموعة مقالات معمقة، تعالج كل المصطلحات، المواضيع، التصورات، المفاهيم التي وظفت في إنتاج نصوص هذه الثقافات المختلفة. ليست مجرد معجم موسوعي بسيط يحتوي مداخل أعلام فقط، كما هو معتاد غالبا في العمل الموسوعي، ولكنها جامع حقيقي يمنح كل دلالته وانسجامه للأنسنة المتوسطية، من خلال دمجها في التاريخ، والتنبيه إلى ما يجمعها دون إهمال ما يفرقها.

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