Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950 by Marwa Elshakry

By Marwa Elshakry

In Reading Darwin in Arabic, Marwa Elshakry questions present rules approximately Islam, technology, and secularism by means of exploring the ways that Darwin used to be learn in Arabic from the overdue 1860s to the mid-twentieth century. Borrowing from translation and interpreting stories and weaving jointly the historical past of technological know-how with highbrow historical past, she explores Darwin’s international allure from the viewpoint of a number of generations of Arabic readers and indicates how Darwin’s writings helped adjust the social and epistemological panorama of the Arab realized classes.
Providing an in depth textual, political, and institutional research of the super curiosity in Darwin’s principles and different works on evolution, Elshakry exhibits how, in an age of big nearby and overseas political upheaval, those readings have been suffused with the anxieties of empire and civilizational decline. The politics of evolution infiltrated Arabic discussions of pedagogy, growth, and the very experience of historical past. additionally they resulted in a literary and conceptual transformation of notions of technological know-how and faith themselves. Darwin therefore turned a car for discussing scriptural exegesis, the stipulations of trust, and cosmological perspectives extra extensively. The publication additionally acquaints readers with Muslim and Christian intellectuals, bureaucrats, and theologians, and concludes through exploring Darwin’s waning impact on public and highbrow existence within the Arab international after international conflict I.
Reading Darwin in Arabic is a fascinating and powerfully argued reconceptualization of the highbrow and political heritage of the center East.

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They brought the Muqtataf group together with Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad ‘Abduh. American and British missionaries had viewed the press as a “potent tool of civilization” and a powerful means of conversion, while Muslim scholars saw it as an effective agent of transregional Muslim reform. Shattering former conventions of reading, transcribing, and collecting texts (above all, in a society dedicated until then to chirography and the palimpsestic codex70), the print press forged novel literary and material networks, circulating ideas much further afield than just the Arab world—now linking Beirut, Cairo, Tripoli, and Istanbul with London, Paris, New York, and Buenos Aires.

In 1847 the Jesuits, in keeping with their Protestant rivals, also established a new Arabic printing press in Beirut. Between 1850 and 1880 Beirut print culture flourished. During this time about twenty-four journals were published in the city, compared with a mere fifteen in Cairo for the same period. By 1875 there were eleven printing presses in Beirut alone, including Al-Matbaʿa al-Suriya, founded in 1857, and Al-Matbaʿa a al-Umumiya, founded in 1861. By the late nineteenth century, they were among the largest and most up to date in the empire.

Others found that British social science, and particularly a Fabian-inspired evolutionary socialism, offered the best political solution to current problems (chapter 6). What they almost all shared was a fundamental gradualism, an acceptance of a pragmatic compromise with power. Whether collaborationist or anticolonialist, liberal or socialist, Darwin’s Arab advocates shared the conviction that evolution implied a slow change over time. In fact, the tendency was a global one: most of Darwin’s readers around the world subscribed, not to revolution, but to political reform of a very gradual sort.

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