[C4377] Teaching History of Islamic Science and Technology
Created by Miri Shefer-Mossensohn
Saturday, 11/19/16 8:00am
SUMMARY:The thematic conversation on "Whither History of Islamic Science" at Denver was dedicated to outlining the themes that occupy us as historians of science and technology in Islamic contexts. We touched upon terminology and historiography. We also discussed the prestige of the field and the limited options for publishing. However, we also teach this topic, as one participant in the panel commented. At a time when popular discourse remains rife with simplifications and misconceptions about the lack of scientific research in the Middle East and the supposed "incompatibility" of science and Islam, what narratives do we have to offer our students, and how can we present them most effectively? We propose to devote the second year thematic conversation to a set of questions regarding how one should teach Islamic history of science and technology. Is it enough to critique the old paradigm of "decline"? How can we integrate our field with students' broader coursework in Middle East studies, for example by connecting the history of science and technology with material culture, economic history, or the history of religion? What are the most useful textbooks? How can we make more primary sources available? In order to be able to discuss these issues, the panel participants this year are all actively engaged in teaching courses on aspects of science and technology in Islamic contexts, within varied administrative and academic frameworks: History, Middle Eastern Studies/History, and Religious Studies.