Past Events - 2009

Spring 2009 Events

 

“Medieval Arabic Block Printing: Old Technology in a New Light”

Date: Monday, April 6
Time: 4:00 p.m. -5:30 p.m.
Location: UCC 117 (International Commons)
Presenter: Dr. Karl Schaefer, Professor of Librarianship, Cowles Library, Drake University

The role of Arabic speaking Muslims in preserving and transmitting knowledge from the classical age is well documented. Many ancient works in medicine, theology, philosophy, and other fields first came to the attention of Renaissance Europe as Arabic translations from Greek and other languages. That early Muslim Arabs were instrumental in adapting and conveying other kinds of knowledge also is perhaps less well-known, but no less important.
 
Block printing, once thought to have been an early European precursor to the invention of moveable type printing in fifteenth-century Germany, had Chinese, Korean and Japanese antecedents and it is becoming increasingly clear that the medieval Arabs were involved in block printing activity, too. This presentation will examine the evidence for that activity and argue for a reinterpretation of medieval Islamic history in light of these discoveries.

Presenter bio:
Karl Schaefer earned his Ph.D. from New York University in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (1985) and his MLIS from the University of Oklahoma (1992).  A specialist in medieval Arabic manuscripts, he has authored a number of book chapters, journal articles, and book reviews on medieval Arabic block printing. Most recently, he has published the first comprehensive, book length treatment of the subject as Enigmatic Charms: Medieval Arabic Block Printed Amulets in American and European Libraries and Museums (Brill, 2006).
 
For more information, contact Edward Miner at edward-miner@uiowa.edu or (319)335-5883.

 

Fall 2009 Events

 

"Democratic Transition in the Sudan"

Date: Friday, October 30
Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Location: Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A
Panelists: Abu Baker Elkhalifa and Gamaleldin Balal

The University of Iowa African Studies Program and Sudanese Community Services, Inc. invite the general public to a panel discussion.

The people of the Sudan have been for a long time victims of severe corruption, poverty, and lack of political and civil liberties under a dictatorial regime. Hence you might find a large population of Sudanese immigrants in Europe, Australia, the United States, and particularly “Iowa City”. For more than 23 years the people of Sudan have not been able to enjoy and exercise fair and democratic elections, leading to global and domestic pressures from different types of people and organizations on the Sudanese government. In April of 2010, Sudan will hold its first democratic, multiparty elections in a generation.

 

Panelists

Abu Baker Elkhalifa was trained in civil engineering at the University of Khartoum (B.Sc.) and University of Iowa (M.S.), and has worked in the public sectors of Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, and for multinational corporations.

Gamaleldin Balal earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics and worked as a university professor in the Sudan. Active in civil society organizations, he has served as president of the Sudanese Agriculturalist Association (1978-1980, 1986-1989), president of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Engineers (1987-1988), and most recently as president of Sudanese Community Services, Inc. (of Iowa City, 2004-2006).

 

"A Presentation of Recent Undergraduate Research in Africa"

Date: Wednesday, November 4
Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Location: 1117 UCC
Presenters: Paul Worrell and Brian Buh

 

Paul Worrell:

I traveled to South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province this summer to do research for my honor's project in journalism entitled 'The Best Muthi.' As South Africa develops in the 21st century and repairs the wounds caused by decades of Apartheid by advancing its fledgling democracy, the nation faces an identity crisis. Is it a true African nation given its wealth and number of white citizens and can it embrace capitalism while still upholding the founding principles of its ruling party? Can the government instill order, improve the welfare of its citizens and protect culture all at the same time? Perhaps no issue makes achieving these three goals more difficult than traditional medicine. My project seeks to show how traditional medicine is adapting to a modernizing, urbanizing and globalizing South Africa and how that country's government and other stakeholders are attempting to delicately steer traditional medicine so that it fits in better with their vision for South Africa's future. 

 

Brian Buh:

The Nazareth Baptist Church in South Africa is a unique mixture of traditional Zulu religion and Christianity that has been combined to create a new religious movement. The church, which has a following of around 5 million people, has often been labeled as a Zulu nationalist movement. My research project examines this claim in the post-Apartheid era to see whether Zulu nationalism still runs strong in the church and to what extent it does. I also look at the question of identity, and whether followers primarily identify themselves by their racial, ethnic, or religious qualities. Finally I observe what effect the introduction of Democracy in South Africa has had on the church with a particular focus on the recent election of Jacob Zuma.

 

The Following Events are Co-Sponsored by the African Studies Proram, Crossing Border Program, the Department of French and Italian, the Middle Eastern and Muslim World Studies Program, and the History Department:

Special Guests: Ida Cordelia Beam, Distinguished Visiting Professor; Professor Anne Bang, University of Bergen

 

"Giving Voice to Chaos: The Challenges of Writing Multiple Histories"

Date: Monday, November 9
Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: 1117 UCC 

Graduate Student Seminar (in conjunction with Crossing Borders Proseminar) 

 

"Indian Ocean History-Places and the Spaces Between"

Date: Tuesday, November 10
Time: 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Location: 2217 Seamans Center
Presenter: Professor Anne K. Bang, University of Bergen

The African Studies Program is co-sponsor of the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the Department of History for 2009-2010. It is held by Professor Anne K. Bang. Professor Bang is a member of both the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, and the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. She is a leading authority in the emerging field of Indian Ocean studies, where she focuses particularly on Islamic culture and scholarship in the region. Her most notable publication is Sufis and Scholars of the Sea: Family Networks in East Africa, 1860-1925 (London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003).

 

"Movements of Islam in the Western Indian Ocean: Theoretical and Conceptual Challenges"

Date: Wednesday, November 11
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: 273 Schaeffer Hall

Professor Bang is a member of the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, and the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, at the University of Bergen, Norway. She is a leading authority in the emerging field of Indian Ocean studies, where she focuses particularly on Islamic culture and scholarship in the region. Her most prominent publication, Sufis and Scholars of the Sea: Family Networks in East Africa, 1860-1925 (London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003) networks of family ties and Islamic scholarship which connected the Hadramaut (the southwestern corner of the Arabian peninsula in modern Yemen) and its far-flung diasporas throughout the Indian Ocean.

Professor Bang will be in residence at the University of Iowa from November 8 to November 12, 2009.

 

"United States of Africa"

Date: Monday, November 16
Time: 3:30 p.m. - 5:20 p.m.
Location: 106 Gilmore Hall
Presenter: Chris Abani

As part of International Education week, Nigerian writer Chris Abani will be on campus Monday, November 16. African Studies students and faculty are cordially invited to attend the International Literature Today class to hear Mr. Abani speak about his work and participate in a discussion of Waberi's United States of Africa.

 

"Geopolitics of Global Energy Supply: An Examination of U.S. - Nigerian Naval Cooperation Under AFRICOM in the Gulf of Guinea"

Date: Thursday, December 3
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.
Location: 61 Schaeffer Hall
Presenter: Professor Celestine Bassey; University of Calabar, Nigeria

Celestine Bassey is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Calabar, Nigeria, and serves as a Senior Research Fellow at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. Having earned his Ph.D. in International Relations and Strategic Studies from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada in 1984, he is author or editor of seven books and several dozen journal articles. From 2003 to 2007 he served as Commissioner of Education for Cross River State, and this year was a keynote speaker at the International Conference on the Niger Delta Crisis in Nigeria. Professor Bassey is currently a Fulbright Fellow at William Penn University.

Dates: Wednesday, April 1; Wednesday April 8; Wednesday, April 15, Wednesday April 22; Wednesday, May 6; Wednesday, May 20
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A

 

The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City Public Library, UI Middle East and Muslim World Studies Program, African Studies Program, and Medieval Studies Program cordially invite the general public to a film series:

http://ffh.films.com/Common/FMGimages/11410_full.jpg

 

With the fall of Rome, Europe turned its back on the marvelous contributions of Classical civilization. But the legacy of Greek thought was not completely lost. It lived on and developed elsewhere: in the Arab world. Supported by expert commentary and enhanced by footage of historic Arab architecture and period works of art, this comprehensive series (in twelve parts, shown over six evenings) documents the remarkable history and the most significant cultural, scientific, and technical achievements of the Arab empire, which came to prominence between the 7th and 13th centuries.

All films will be introduced by Edward Miner, International Studies Bibliographer, University of Iowa Libraries, with discussion to follow. This film series will be shown in conjunction with an exhibit of the same name in the north foyer of the University of Iowa Main Library. For more information, contact Edward Miner at (319)335-5883 or edward-miner@uiowa.edu.

 

"The Arabs Make Their Entrance: Islam and Empire"

"Once Upon a Time: Baghdad During the Abbasid Dynasty"

Date: Wednesday, April 1
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: ICPL Meeting Room A
Length of Film: 26 min.

"The Arabs Make Their Entrance: Islam and Empire"
As the shadow of the Dark Ages fell across Europe, the scene for the advancement of Western civilization shifted to the Near East. This program charts the rise of the Arab empire, from its roots in the long-standing rivalry between the Byzantines and the Sassanids.

"Once Upon a Time: Baghdad During the Abbasid Dynasty"
The victory of the Abbasids over the Umayyads signified much more than the replacement of one dynasty with another. With it, Islam saw the birth of a multiethnic concept of power, in which both Arab and non-Arab Muslims could share authority.

 

"The Andalusian Epic: Islamic Spain"

"They Surveyed the World: Exploring the Arab Empire and Beyond"

Date: Wednesday, April 8
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: ICPL Meeting Room A
Length of Film: 27 min.

"The Andalusian Epic: Islamic Spain"
This program addresses the expansion of the Arab empire into Spain, where Muslims ruled with tolerance for more than seven centuries. The introduction and consolidation of Islamic power in Spain, the creation of the Umayyad emirate by the sole survivor of the Umayyad dynasty, the rise of Cordoba as a cultural rival of Abbasid Baghdad, and the gradual ebb of Arab rule on the Iberian Peninsula are all discussed.

"They Surveyed the World: Exploring the Arab Empire and Beyond"
During the 10th century, people routinely journeyed from one end of the huge Arab empire to the other—and even into non-Islamic lands far to the north and the east. Who were these travelers, and what did they seek? This program captures what it was like to be a pilgrim in a caravan bound for Mecca, an official carrying out the Caliph’s orders, a scholar seeking knowledge, a merchant in search of new markets, and an explorer charting the seas.

 

"The Muslim Town: Urban Life under the Caliphate"

"An Art of Living: Arab Aesthetics in 9th-Century Spain"

Date: Wednesday, April 15
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: ICPL Meeting Room A
Length of Film: 27 min.

"The Muslim Town: Urban Life under the Caliphate"
Although the first towns the Arabs founded during the expansion of Arabia were only vast campsites, it was not long before their temporary dwellings gave way to the magnificent signature architecture of Arabian culture. What was it like to live in the Arab cities of the Abbasid dynasty, grand oases of refinement and innovation?

"An Art of Living: Arab Aesthetics in 9th-Century Spain"
As life among the aristocracy in Damascus and Baghdad attained its zenith of refinement, another important cultural center was developing in Islamic Cordoba. This program focuses on the remarkable cultural contributions of Ziryab, a talented young musician who fled the East for Andalusia and became the era’s preeminent arbiter of style and taste.

 

"The Secrets of the Human Body: Islam’s Contributions to Medicine"

"Everything under the Sun: Astronomy, Mathematics, and Islam"

Date: Wednesday, April 22
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: ICPL Meeting Room A
Length of Film: 27 min.

"The Secrets of the Human Body: Islam’s Contributions to Medicine"
This program investigates the practice of medicine during the Abbasid Caliphate, offering profiles of Jurjis ibn Jibrail, personal doctor to Caliph al-Mansur; Yuhanna ibn Masawayh, head of Caliph al-Ma’amun’s House of Wisdom; Rhazes, whose Kitab al-hawi outlines an exemplary clinical approach; Avicenna, universally known for his Canon of Medicine; and Abul Qasim al-Zahrawi, the father of modern surgery.

"Everything under the Sun: Astronomy, Mathematics, and Islam"
Picking up mathematics and astronomy from where the ancient Greeks had left off, Arab scholars paved the way for the Copernican revolution and the rebirth of science in Europe. This program reveals the Empire of the Caliphate’s role in developing the Indo-Arabic decimal system, algebra, and algorithms and in refining the science of optics and the Ptolemaic model of the solar system.

 

"The Thousand and One Nights: A Historical Perspective"

"Ulema and Philosophers: Faith vs. Reason in Islamic Arabia"

Date: Wednesday, May 6
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: ICPL Meeting Room A
Length of Film: 27 min.

"The Thousand and One Nights: A Historical Perspective"
Encompassing fairy tales, romances, legends, fables, parables, and anecdotes, The Thousand and One Nights is a composite of popular oral stories that developed over several centuries, mainly during the Empire of the Caliphate. This program scrutinizes the wonderfully audacious tale of Scheherazade and what it tells the attentive reader about the dreams of Arab men and women during the empire’s golden age.

"Ulema and Philosophers: Faith vs. Reason in Islamic Arabia"
By replacing paganism with monotheism and tribal life with empire-building, the Arabs of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties effected a complete paradigm shift in their worldview. This program studies the codification of Islamic law and assimilation of non-Arab texts—and the ensuing competition between the ulema, or doctors of the law, and the philosophers, who saw reason as an equal to divine enlightenment.

 

"From Arabic to Latin: The Assimilation of Arab Knowledge"

"Forgetting the Arabs: Europe on the Cusp of the Renaissance"

Date: Wednesday, May 20
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: ICPL Meeting Room A
Length of Film: 26 min.

"From Arabic to Latin: The Assimilation of Arab Knowledge"

As dissension mounted between the rival Arab dynasties in Baghdad, Cordoba, and Cairo, Christendom rallied to oppose the Muslims in Spain and Jerusalem. This program plots out the decline of the Empire of the Caliphate and the acquisition of Arab knowledge by Europeans starved for Islam's intellectual riches.

 

"Forgetting the Arabs: Europe on the Cusp of the Renaissance"Why was Islamic philosophy, once the epitome of Arab learning, eventually rejected by Muslims? And why, after assimilating it, did Europeans distance themselves from its formulators? This program seeks to understand the religious climate of the late Middle Ages, in which universities and madrassas became centers of power and models for evolving sociopolitical systems.

 

The UI African Studies Program, Middle East and Muslim World Studies Program, and Center for the Book are pleased to invite the university community and the general public to the next in the ongoing Baraza lecture series.