Beneath biography: Attitudes toward self, society, and empire among the scholars of eighteenth-century Ottoman Damascus /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Salem, Basil, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2016
Description:1 electronic resource (229 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Holly Shissler; John Woods Committee members: Orit Bashkin.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 78-06(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation explores the lives and worlds of scholars in eighteenth-century Ottoman Damascus. The dissertation investigates the figure of the scholar not in terms of his function and vocation, but in terms of his understanding of himself and the world around him. In doing so, the dissertation challenges the unidimensional and largely functional view that the historiography has relied on when treating Muslim scholars in general, and Arabic-speaking scholars of the early modern period in particular. The dissertation, therefore, aims to offer an historically contingent view of scholars both as a social group and as individuals in eighteenth-century Ottoman-Damascus.
The pursuit of these historical inquiries relies on a new reading of a familiar type of source, namely, biographical literature. In the dissertation I show how Arabic biographical sources, particularly the centenary biographical dictionary of Muhammad Khalil al-Muradi (d.1791/1206), can be employed in the service of a cultural history of scholars - for a history of mentalites and of self-perception. I also show how reading the biographical dictionary as a complete and integrated work, and not as a reference for specific historical inquiries, allows the perspective of its compiler, a scholar, and by extension the scholarly establishment to which he belonged, to emerge.