This course aims to introduce students to the sources peculiar to the history of the Islamic world. It will not only provide students with a good overview of the sources (with a focus on the sources translated or available in European languages), but it will also train them to the major heuristic tools of the field. On the one hand, the course focuses on the primary sources : what are the sources available for the history of the Islamic world (documentary vs. narrative; manuscript vs. edited work), where to find them (archives, libraries, digital collections, private collections), and how to use them. On the other hand, it aims to train students to the major research tools and strategies that will facilitate their future research.
Due to the nature of the field, the course is divided in two parts: pre-modern (until ca. 1600; M.Dekkiche) and modern (R. Shaery-Yazdi).
Part I consists of 5 sessions and will be divided in three sections. Section one aims to introduce students to the specificities of the Arabic sources for the premodern Islamic world, we will discuss: (1) the problem of the lack of archives and the available sources at disposal (documents, papyri, epigraphic and numismatic sources); and (2) the narrative sources. This first section will provide some of the general heuristic tools peculiar to the different categories of sources. Given the great historical production of the Islamic world in Arabic, section 2 will analyze further the narrative sources, and will briefly introduce students to Arabic historiography. In addition to the theoretical presentation of the different sources, students will be able to work on some of the works in translation. During that session, students will also exercise research tools and attempt to localize primary sources in translation. Finally with section three students will be able to exercise specific application of heuristic research: one on the Mamluk period based on localization of archival, manuscripts material and specific literature (this will consist of a specific assignment for a portfolio). The second and last class will welcome a guest lecturer specialized on manuscript studies and codicology.
In the second part the class shifts focus to the sources in the Modern Islamic World. Researching the history of the contemporary Islamic world is relevant for understanding present day politics and societies in both the West as well as the Islamic world. Next to introducing the most important secondary sources that help contextualize the historiography of the this era in Muslim dominated societies, the goal is to familiarize students with possibilities to conduct original research on the Islamic World in European languages. Documents of Foreign Ministries, memoirs, oral history projects, and diaspora studies are the main foci, while students also become the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in Muslim neighborhoods in Antwerp. With the support of the instructor the result of these projects can be published in a booklet for a wider audience.