Vortrag im Rahmen des Humboldt Research Award 2019

Sabine Schmidtke received Humboldt Research Prize 2019

Sabine Schmidtke, Professor of Islamic Intellectual History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, has been awarded the Humboldt Research Prize 2019 for her lifetime academic achievements. Sabine Schmidtke spends the funds granted for her project “Travelling Knowledge: Towards a Historical Bibliography of the Islamic World” amongst others in collaboration with Sebastian Günther, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Göttingen, who nominated her for the prize.

Online Lecture Towards a History of Libraries in Yemen
03 November 2021, 6-7:30 PM (CET) Zoom

The Islamicate world is renowned for its numerous public and private libraries, expression of an overall book culture that seems to aptly characterize large segments of Near and Middle Eastern societies beyond denominational borders throughout time. The sheer quantity of extant manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Ottoman-Turkish and cognate languages of Near and Middle Eastern provenance corroborates the numerous references in the literary sources to the many, at times huge, libraries from ancient times up until the modern period. While some libraries have completely vanished, others can partly be reconstructed on the basis of the dispersed codices and/or data provided in secondary historical sources. The rich and still largely unexplored manuscript tradition of the Zaydi branch of Shi'ism, with its continuous presence in Yemen since the ninth century, constitutes a unique laboratory for a historical bibliography of its literary tradition — Zaydi Yemen is characterized by a religio-dynastic continuance that stretched over nearly a millenium until the abolition of the Zaydi imamate in 1962, and it underwent repeated instances of state-sponsored religio-cultural initiatives to affirm and renew the state’s Zaydi identity, during the thirteenth, the seventeenth, and again the early twentieth century. During all three periods, the production of books increased exponentially and new libraries were founded. Since much of Yemen's manuscript tradition has come down to us, the preserved material allows for a meticulous longue durée study of Yemen’s religio-cultural history through its libraries, the outlines of which will be sketched out in the lecture.