SOAS Conference – Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiography

17 September 2010

Aga Khan University – Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, 210 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DA

Jointly organised by the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, Aga Khan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Since the emergence of a major written tradition in the ninth century CE, history narrated in Arabic has been an important component of cultural patrimony. Beyond expressing Arab societies’ own reflections on their histories, Arabic historical narratives have provided reference points for communities throughout the wider Muslim world. As well as recording the past, Arabic historiography has served as a normative guide to the present, from the earliest history of the Muslim community, through key turning points in Islamic history, to the globalised debates and struggles of our own time.

Building on the successful workshops held in 2008 and 2009, we invite colleagues in different areas of the field of Arabic historiography to map the state of the field, discuss areas of current work, and explore points of divergence and intersection at this one-day workshop. The goal of the workshop is exploratory: to bring together the disparate strands of contemporary studies of Arabic historiography and to provide a forum in which future projects can be envisioned. Building on the classic areas of textual commentary and critique focused on the canonical literary corpus, a whole range of studies can be envisaged that might expand and deepen our understanding of how the past has been — and continues to be — imagined and narrated in Arabic, across time and space from the classical age to the present.

Enquiries to Sarah Bowen Savant,, Konrad Hirschler, or James McDougall,