“Science, Nature and Magnificence: Concord and Cosmological Views in Islamic Science” is an exhibit which showcases over 90 manuscripts, devices and objects targeted on the Islamic sciences broadly conceived, lots of which have by no means been on show earlier than since they entered our collections within the Uncommon Ebook and Manuscript Library on the Columbia College Libraries, some 100 years in the past.
This exhibit is a collective curatorial effort that has concerned college students, school members, librarians and library employees working hand-in-hand over fourteen months: from its inception, this exhibit has been conceived as a dynamic, collaborative engagement with our Muslim World Manuscript collections, and as a possibility to make use of reveals in our Libraries as a crucial pedagogical device, one that’s grounded in an mental self-discipline and a topic, past mere “present and inform” visible reveals. It was additionally actively conceived with the intention to help a well-rounded liberal arts training for our college students and to additional their success. We conceived this exhibit as a studying, collaborative journey, one which we hoped would contain many voices and gamers, various and completely different, however at all times united by an important scholarly companionship, a suhba (companionship) of students searching for the enjoyment of studying.
A number of further issues additionally performed a task in motivating us to place up this exhibit: one impetus got here from the belief that even a cursory have a look at CUL’s assortment of Islamic manuscripts and the Smith/Plimpton assortment of scientific devices reveals a number of necessary info. First, we have been struck by the depth of gathering round Islamic science in our Muslim World Manuscript (MWM) assortment at RBML. The foundational position of the MWM assortment within the formation of RBML is never acknowledged, and the Smith Plimpton collections, which fashioned the core of the present Uncommon Ebook and Manuscript Library (based in 1934) with unmatched power within the historical past of Islamic science, have but to be acknowledged and put in dialogue with the remainder of the RBML collections. The objects within the assortment demanded to be seen, engaged with, researched and appreciated: an exhibit specializing in Islamic science clearly constituted an important alternative for scholarly studying and for lively engagement with our collections, and for illuminating barely seen or suppressed chronological lineages and networks of scholarship, dialogue and exchanges not solely within the historical past of science but additionally within the historical past of our personal Library collections.
Second, these collections clearly problem the standard narrative of Islamic science as squeezed between mere transmission (of the Greco-Hellenistic heritage) and translation (into the European Renaissance). The objects exhibited right here contribute to an understanding of Islamic science as a strong, various and energetic scholarly endeavor that touched on many facets of the Muslim world, and as a central and non-reducible element of bigger and non-linear histories, cultures and traditions of the humanities and sciences. The conclusion we drew was that such an exhibit would represent a beautiful alternative to deal with these silences and gaps; to complement the historical past of science from a non-Western standpoint.
Our curatorial crew consisted of the next members: Kaoukab Chebaro (International Research, Columbia College Libraries), Olivia Clemens (PhD candidate, Artwork historical past Division), Aneka Kazlyna (graduate scholar, MESAAS), Arwa Palanpurwala (Islamic Research MA Pupil, Center East Institute- GSAS, ), Prof. Tunç Şen (Historical past Division), Prof. Marwa Elshakry (Historical past Division), Prof. Avinoam Shalem (Reggio professor, Artwork Historical past Division), Julia Tomasson (graduate scholar, Historical past Division), Yusuf Umrethwala (Islamic Research MA Pupil, Center East Institute-GSAS).
We met fortnightly for the higher a part of the yr to undergo the numerous objects that our crew of scholars, fellows, librarians and college researched, wrote about and offered throughout our collective discussions. The result’s ten home windows organized below the next themes and titles: Window I: Information and Follow (co-curated by Prof. Tunç Şen, Prof. Marwa Elshakry and Kaoukab Chebaro); Window II: Cosmographies and Wonders of the World (co-curated by Yusuf Umrethwala and Kaoukab Chebaro; Window III: Conserving Time: in Synchrony with the Heavens ((co-curated by Yusuf Umrethwala and Kaoukab Chebaro); Window IV: Educating, Pedagogy and Adab (curated by Kaoukab Chebaro); Window V: Euclid (curated by Julia Tomasson); Window VI: Islamic Astronomy and Astrology (curated by Aneka Kazlyna); Window VII: Mathematical Sciences (Co-curated by Julia and Aneka); Window VIII: the Occult Sciences (curated by Tunç Şen with help from Kaoukab Chebaro); Window IX: Past Illustration: Adab and Methods of Seeing (co-curated by Kaoukab Chebaro, Arwa Palanpurwala and Olivia Clemens, with recommendation from Prof. Avinoam Shalem) ; Window X: Past the Textual content: Calligraphy as a contrapuntal, devotional and scientific artwork (co-curated by Kaoukab Chebaro, Arwa Palanpurwala and Olivia Clemens, with recommendation from Prof. Avinoam Shalem), and Window XI, the place we lay out our collaborative curatorial strategy, and share testimonies from the varied exhibit crew members (curators, in addition to conservators, designers, school, college students) who share their ideas and experiences with mounting the exhibit.
Of their experiences of the exhibit, some scholar curators mentioned the next:
Aneka Kazlyna (graduate scholar, MESAAS): “This exhibit has been one of the formative experiences of my graduate training. I discovered hands-on expertise with manuscripts and printed editions that I couldn’t attain in lessons alone. I fashioned stunning friendships by engaged on this exhibit and bought to know everybody who cares deeply about Islamic manuscripts and scientific data throughout mental traditions.”
Yusuf Umrethwala (Islamic Research MA Pupil, Center East Institute-GSAS):”This exhibit offered an important studying expertise for me, and it was very gratifying to be part of a crew of inspiring colleagues and professors. The foremost takeaway from the exhibit was studying the artwork of receiving and giving suggestions.”
Arwa Palanpurwala (Islamic Research MA Pupil, Center East Institute-GSAS): “This exhibit proved to be certainly one of my favourite experiences at Columbia. Not solely was I a part of an exceptional crew, however I used to be additionally critically partaking with the manuscripts themselves and had entry to layers of historical past that the manuscripts carried of their pages. Participating with manuscripts and materials tradition so immediately was a transformative academic expertise. It gave me the chance to consider lots of my very own preconceptions and people of up to date views on Islamic mental historical past in a crucial method. I got here away with some eye opening conversations, made pals, and constructed great reminiscences which actually enriched my expertise each as a scholar at Columbia but additionally as an exhibit viewer, extra broadly. I’ll take a few of the classes discovered right here to each exhibition I’ll go to any further!”
We hope that this exhibit embodies and exemplifies the pedagogical energy of our archival collections on the Libraries, and the promise of the collaborative curatorial mannequin we’ve put in place and experimented with. We’re assured there are lots of classes discovered there and areas of development that are worthy of additional exploration as we search to additional activate our archival collections, and to unleash their crucial pedagogical energy.
We additionally hope that this exhibit will present its viewers with a historic view of scientific apply inside Islamic societies as basically a matter of contemplation, concord and attunement with the universe, somewhat than of management and energy over nature and sources. The view of Islamic societies that emerges is of a society permeated by science at each stage: science finally ends up informing every little thing from day by day calendars and prayer instances calculated throughout a number of latitudes, intricate data of the skies and the planets, structure and grand monuments laid to specific mathematical and beautiful geometric patterns of arabesques and mosaics, to pocket astrolabes that assist navigate the world. A scholar of Islamic science as soon as jokingly mentioned to me that the astrolabe, popularized by Islamic scientists on unprecedented scales, is the traditional equal of the smartphone! Maybe this exhibit will assist to disclose the reality of this comment.
This exhibit is open to all: guests and members of the general public, please pay attention to the College COVID compliance necessities, and be ready to indicate government-issued ID on the Library Info Workplace in an effort to enter Butler Library. The hours for the Library Info Workplace may be discovered right here, and for the Uncommon Ebook and Manuscript Library right here.
The exhibit is accompanied by an audio information, which may be accessed right here, and an e-brochure, which may be downloaded right here.
A sequence of panels and talks associated to the exhibit and to the Muslim World Manuscript assortment on show can be introduced shortly: it can embrace panels from college students and college who have been a part of the curatorial crew, in addition to conservateurs who labored on the manuscripts, and different college students and students serious about our Muslim World Manuscript collections. Please keep tuned.