BRISMES 2020 Roundtable Call For Participants (CfP): Decolonizing Islamicate Manuscript Studies 

Nadirah Mansour's picture

Dear all,

A  colleague, Dr Sumayya Ahmed, and I are organizing a roundtable for the annual meeting of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES). Find the call for participants below.

BRISMES 2020 Roundtable Call For Participants (CfP): Decolonizing Islamicate Manuscript Studies

Shephard (2006) contends that a French man coined the term “decolonization” with regard to Algeria in 1836. While the meanings of the term changed according to context, it no longer means (simply?) the withdrawal or decline of imperial powers, but also mandates a challenge to white supremacy.  As Tuck and Yang (2012) have pointed out its use cannot be metaphorical.

How, and should decolonization be operationalized in the field of Islamic manuscript studies?

For this roundtable discussion at the 2020 BRISMES, we invite participants to critically engage with the possibilities for the decolonization of Islamicate manuscript studies.

Discussants could speak on, but not be limited to, the following areas:


  • Neocolonial uses of manuscript digitization projects

  • How politics and social forces shape access (intellectual and physical) to manuscripts 

  • Custody and the repatriation /rematriation of Islamicate manuscripts 

  • Colonial confiscation of manuscripts / Colonial book collecting 

  • Critical provenance of manuscripts in western libraries 

  • Use of Islamicate mss in graduate study 

  • The idea of (some) Islamic manuscripts as sacred texts 

  • Biographies/social histories of specific mss and 

  • Over emphasis of codicology in the study of Islamicate texts 

  • Reading Islamicate manuscripts through an orientalist lens  

  • Differences between western and indigenous scholarship of Islamicate manuscripts

  • The role of the critical edition as a (de)colonial practice

  • The appropriateness of the term “decolonization”  for the field of Islamicate manuscript study.


Participants are asked to submit a 250 word abstract of their roundtable discussion along with a recent CV  to  by November 18, 2019.