posted by Audrey Truschke
An overview of the primary Persian manuscript collections in the United Kingdom.
We are now approaching what UK-based researchers lovingly call “the season,” meaning the time of year when academics from across the world descend on the British Library en masse and going for a mid-afternoon cup of coffee often results in a series of impromptu reunions. The British Library boasts an extensive collection of Persian and Indo-Persian manuscripts (some of which they are digitizing), but they are not the only show in town. Scholars too often overlook other Persian language archives in London and...
posted by Sarah Elsie Baker
A review of Consuming Underwear: Fashioning Female Identity, by Christiana Tsaousi.
The act of putting on underwear is a practice that most of us take part in everyday. Yet as Christiana Tsaousi makes clear in her dissertation, the decisions central to this practice have been largely unexplored by academic studies. Emerging at the intersection between consumption studies, fashion studies and marketing, Tsaousi explores the socio-cultural factors that influence underwear consumption. The thesis focuses on women and considers the role of underwear in the making of femininity. Through focus groups...
posted by Julia del Palacio Langer
A review of the Archivo General del Estado de Veracruz (Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico).
I spent a considerable amount of time doing research in the Archivo General del Estado de Veracruz (AGEV) during 2010 and 2011. I mostly worked with Local Agrarian Commission documents, but have also done some research in the archive section of governor Adalberto Tejeda and of the Veracruzan Ministry of Public Works. The AGEV can be incredibly rewarding, but also utterly frustrating. This, however, can probably be said about any repository in the world.
I narrate here a typical day in the AGEV:
• I get up in my...
posted by John A. Listopad
A review of The Buddhist Boundary Markers of Northeast Thailand and Central Laos, 7th – 12th Centuries CE: Towards an Understanding of the Archaeological, Religious and Artistic Landscapes of The Khorat Plateau, by Stephen A. Murphy.
Stephen Murphy’s dissertation presents an in-depth analysis of the archeological and historic evidence for the earliest form of Buddhist Boundary markers (sema) in Southeast Asia. Following a preliminary discussion concerning existing views concerning sema in Southeast Asia and Northeastern Thailand in particular (Introduction – Chapter 1), he examines in...
posted by Michael Stanley-Baker
A review of Buddhist Medicine in Medieval China: Disease, Healing, and the Body in Cross-cultural Translation (Second to Eighth Centuries C.E.), by C. Pierce Salguero.
Pierce Salguero’s dissertation marks a significant departure from the norms of Chinese medical history, which has focused almost entirely on a received tradition that traces its origins back to the Huangdi neijing 黃帝內經. By introducing a discrete body of medical writings from the Buddhist Canon (Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō 大正新脩大藏經) and the Dunhuang 敦煌 manuscripts, Salguero brings to bear on these...
posted by Frederick R. Davis
A review of A Knot in Common: Science, Values, and Conservation in the Atlantic Flyway, by Kristoffer Jon Whitney.
A Knot in Common by Kristoffer Whitney presents controversy of the Red Knot, a fairly small and nondescript shorebird that breeds in Arctic Canada and spends the winter in Patagonia, at the southern end of South America. In full breeding plumage, Red Knots sport orangey-red plumage on the breast (hence the common term: “robin snipe”). When migrating between southern Argentina and northern Canada, Red Knots have numerous stopover points where they gorge themselves on the eggs of...
posted by Roberta Strippoli
A review of Another Tale of the Heike: An Examination of the Engyōbon Heike monogatari, by Amy Christine Franks.
Amy Franks’s meticulously researched and persuasively written dissertation is a study of the Engyōbon, a lesser-known but extremely important variant of the Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike, 13th century). Copied from a manuscript dated 1309 (the second year of the Engyō era), the Engyōbon Heike monogatari is widely regarded as the oldest existing Heike text. The manuscript was produced at Negoroji, a complex of Buddhist temples on Mt. Kōya, headquarters of the Shingon...
posted by Francis Khek Gee Lim
A review of Emergence and Development of Spiritual-Religious Groups in the People’s Republic of China after 1978, by Kristin Kupfer.
December 2012 witnessed a seemingly curious case of convergence of Mayan civilization, Christianity, and Chinese popular religion. Many members of a group called “Church of the Almighty God,” believing the Mayan prophesy that the end of the world was imminent, began to organize mass demonstrations exhorting the Chinese people to repent their sins, to prepare for the coming apocalypse, and to overthrow the ruling Communist Party. What happened next was highly...
posted by Matthew Melvin-Koushki
Will you be doing archival research on topics Islamic or related to the Islamic world this summer? Before heading out, be sure to brush up with our growing Fresh from the Archives series! And if you’d like to contribute a new article or submit an update for any of these institutions below, please contact the Islamic Studies Field Editor at email@example.com.
Süleymaniye Library, Istanbul (Christopher Markiewicz)
Ottoman Archives, Istanbul (Christopher Markiewicz)
Al-Beruni Institute for Oriental Studies, Tashkent (Ertuğrul Ökten)
posted by Aryendra Chakravartty
A review of Hungry Bengal: War, Famine, Riots, and the End of Empire 1939-1946, by Janam Mukherjee.
Janam Mukherjee’s dissertation is a thorough study of late colonial Bengal in the context of war, famine, and riots leading up to the eventual dissolution of empire. The central argument of the dissertation is built on the claim that famine was the “most profound factor influencing the structural, political, social, economic and communal fabric of Bengal” during this period (p. 5). The author provides a vivid illustration of the famine’s “awesome magnitude” in terms of its impact on...
posted by Chris Vasantkumar
A review of The Dialectics of Virtuosity: Dance in the People’s Republic of China, 1949-2009, by Emily Elissa Wilcox.
In this highly readable and intellectually provocative dissertation, Emily Wilcox makes a convincing and often surprising case for the intimacy of the relationship between the invention, codification and standardization of, on the one hand, specifically “Chinese” dance forms since the birth of the People’s Republic and of imaginings of Chinese culture and the Chinese nation-state on the other. She leavens this cogent historical and theoretical analysis of dance’s...
posted by Matthew Melvin-Koushki
We are delighted to announce another new series on Dissertation Reviews, which is coming in the 2013-2014 season, and welcome three new editors — Amaryllis Logotheti (Panteion University, Athens), Ileana Moroni (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) and Nikos Christofis (Leiden University). This series will bring you friendly, non-critical overviews of recently defended, unpublished dissertations on anything from the history of the Ottoman Empire to contemporary politics and society in Turkey. If you are interested in having your dissertation reviewed, please fill out the Review...
posted by Michele Friedner
A review of Embodied Marginalities: Disability, Citizenship, and Space in Highland Ecuador, by Nicholas Rattray.
Situated at the intersections of medical anthropology, the anthropology of Latin America, disability studies, and human geography, Nicholas Rattray’s important dissertation analyzes the emergence of the category of “person with disability” in a particular Latin American context and in relation to people with physical and visual disabilities. Rattray chooses to focus on Ecuador because it has an international reputation for being pro-active in the area of disability rights. In...