About the event
In this presentation I will discuss the records and correspondence on Wetzstein’s acquisition ventures recently found in the internal archives of the Berlin State Library. Building upon Christoph Rauch, this presentation will re-visit Wetzstein’s lately found letter Nachrichten zum Catalog der arabischen Handschriftensammlung des Dr. J. G. Wetzstein among other sources. While touching upon the degree of Wetzstein’s embeddedness in Damascene society, this presentation aims to elucidate the agency of a local antiquities dealer, Jamāl al-Miṣrī, in translocating Arabic manuscripts. My argument is that al-Miṣrī – like other local agents – played an active and important role in shaping what has become the material corpus of knowledge of nowadays manuscript repositories. The function of local manuscript dealers as ‘gate keepers of manuscript trade’ will be further stressed by briefly looking at other non-local and less successful agents involved in manuscript translocations, highlighting the power local agents were capable of articulating.
Farid El-Ghawaby is a Ph.D. student at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies of Freie Universität Berlin. His thesis deals with Quranic fragments of the Qubbat al-Khazna (Damascus), their translocation histories and (local) actors involved therein. He conducted archival work in Cambridge, Cairo and Berlin. He teaches Arabic at Freie Universität Berlin as an Associate Lecturer since 2016 and studied Islamic Studies and Religious Studies in Berlin (2013-2019).