The talks in spring deal with the fate of manuscripts in times of violence and destruction. The speakers will discuss how such circumstances affected patterns of preservation, use and dissemination, and ask about the consequences of such violent displacements and transfers for manuscript cultures in the Middle East and elsewhere. All presentations will be in English. Dr. Feras Krimsti, who supervises the library's collection of oriental manuscripts, and Prof. Dr. Konrad Hirschler (Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, University of Hamburg) will moderate.
On 16 March, 6.15 p.m., Dr Laura Hinrichsen (Berlin) will kick things off with a lecture on the libraries of the Hafsids (c. 1250-1574) before and after the sack of Tunis in 1535. In the course of the so-called Tunis Expedition, the libraries of the Hafsids, the local ruling dynasty, were plundered and many other manuscripts were brought to Europe as booty by the imperial armies of Charles V. There they were sold or given to scholars. There they were sold or given away to scholars and collectors of Arabic books. Both Arabic and European historiography declare the libraries of the Hafsids lost since the Ottoman-European proxy wars in North Africa. Today, the manuscripts of the Hafsids are scattered in numerous European and Turkish collections - only a few manuscripts are still in Tunis. This article presents a selection of these Arabic manuscripts and focuses on the decisive moment of the looting of Tunis and its libraries. It sheds light on its consequences for the manuscript culture of the Hafsids and, in a broader sense, for the Maghreb. The article explores the question of what the reconstructed corpus can and cannot tell us today about the lost book culture of the Hafsids.
Laura Hinrichsen is curator at the Museum of Islamic Arts in the Pergamonmuseum (Berlin). She studied Islamic Studies and Arabic Studies at the Free University of Berlin and Islamic Arts and Archaeology at Oxford University. Her research foci are material culture in North Africa and the transfer of culture and knowledge in the Mediterranean region. Her dissertation "Looted Letters" (Oxford 2021/22) deals with the Arabic manuscripts brought to Europe as booty in the course of the sack of Tunis in 1535.
The event can be accessed via the following link: https://uni-erfurt.webex.com/meet/veranstaltungen.fb. Registration is not required.