Paper, Heat, and Termites: The Private Manuscripts of Southern Moroccan Oases

Paper, Heat, and Termites: The Private Manuscripts of Southern Moroccan Oases

A lecture by Aomar Boum (UCLA)

Thursday, April 11, 2019
3:00 PM
111 GSEIS Building

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Unlike the general colonial perception that pre-Saharan North African oases had virtually no Islamic intellectual heritage, the recent corpus of publicized personal family manuscripts highlight a long history of Islamic learning and intellectual production in the region. After the gradual adoption of Islam by local populations in pre-Saharan and sub-Saharan regions and the steady Islamization of urban and rural societies, writing and paper became a significant part of learning in the region. Paper manuscripts were circulated across Saharan, pre-Saharan and West African communities with the increasing arrivals of Islamic merchants. Yet, and unlike Timbuktu where many private libraries have been saved thanks to the efforts of international organization and digitization, personal family libraries in southern Moroccan oases are still threatened by insects, temperature variations, termites, and lack of scientific conservation. In this talk, I highlight indigenous cases of Islamic conservation in the absence of state initiatives and support.

Aomar Boum is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is interested in the place of religious minorities such as Jews, Baha'is, Shias, and Christians in post-independence Middle Eastern and North African nation states. He is the author of Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco (2013) and co-editor of The Holocaust and North Africa (Stanford University Press, 2018).

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Information Studies