Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, North African, Middle Eastern, and Islamic History, Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan
Mapping the Ibadi Archipelago: Tracing Intellectual Networks among Ibadi Muslim Communities in Medieval North Africa (11-16th c.)

My dissertation traces the creation, transmission, and diffusion of five medieval manuscript works by Ibadi Muslim scholars in North Africa with the aim of understanding the intellectual networks which these works helped to form. Ibadi Muslims were a small but important religious minority in medieval North Africa. After a brief period of political dominance in North Africa at the beginning of the Middle Ages, Ibadi Muslims disappeared from the well-known chronicles and history of medieval North Africa. But while they might have faded from the view of their Muslim contemporaries, it was in the centuries following their political marginalization that Ibadis created a corpus of texts that drew the boundaries of their religious community in the past and present. The vehicle that allowed for this construction and maintenance of this religious community, I argue, was the creation of corpus of biographical dictionaries that chronicled the lives of Ibadi scholars. The project explores the creation and diffusion of five such works, composed from the 11th to the 16th centuries in three stages. Firstly, it examines and explains the relationships between these five authors on the textual level. Secondly, it will chart the movement of the physical manuscripts themselves by examining extant copies of these works in both public and private libraries throughout the Mediterranean region. Finally, the project will map the movement of these works, considering the physical geographies through which they moved and how their circulation related to the broader political and religious landscapes of medieval North Africa. The result will be not only to describe an obscure period in the history of this important religious minority but also to offer an example of the ways in which religious communities construct and maintain the boundaries of their faith through the creation, transmission, and diffusion of historical and biographical literature.