Parution : F. Bora, “Writing History in the Medieval Islamic World. The Value of Chronicles as Archives”,I.B. Tauris, juin 2019.
In the ‘encyclopaedic’ fourteenth century, Arabic chronicles produced in Mamluk cities bore textual witness to both recent and bygone history, including that of the Fatimids (969–1171CE). For in two centuries of rule over Egypt and North Africa, the Isma’ili Fatimids had left few self-generated historiographical records. Instead, it fell to Ayyubid and Mamluk historians to represent the dynasty to posterity. This monograph sets out to explain how later historians preserved, interpreted and re-organised earlier textual sources.
Mamluk historians engaged in a sophisticated archival practice within historiography, rather than uncritically reproducing earlier reports. In a new diplomatic edition, translation and analysis of Mamluk historian Ibn al-Furat’s account of late Fatimid rule in The History of Dynasties and Kings, a widely known but barely copied universal chronicle of Islamic history, Fozia Bora traces the survival of historiographical narratives from Fatimid Egypt. Through Ibn al-Furat’s text, Bora demonstrates archivality as the heuristic key to Mamluk historical writing.
This book is essential for all scholars working on the written culture and history of the medieval Islamic world, and paves the way for a more nuanced reading of pre-modern Arabic chronicles and of the epistemic environment in which they were produced.
List of Illustrations
Note on Terminology, Transliteration and Dates
1 The Archival Function of Historiography
2 An exemplary chronicle as archive: Ibn al-Fura¯t‘s Ta’rikh al-duwal wa ‘l-muluk
3 Fatimid Archivalia: Narratives and Documents in Late Fatimid Egypt
4 Mamluk Archivalities: Late Fatimid History in Ibn al-Furat’s Chronicle
5 A Micro-Historical Analysis of Ibn al-Furat’s Archive (Part 1): Two Fatimid Vizierates
6 A Micro-Historical Analysis of Ibn al-Furat’s Archive (Part 2): Fatimid Caliphs and Viziers to the Rise of ?ala? al-Din
7 Concluding Remarks: The Value of Chronicles as Archives
“Bora’s mapping of medieval Islamic Egyptian historiography is a tour de force. Through a razor-sharp analysis of primary and secondary literature, she traces the reception of Ibn al-Furat’s writings through the broad sweep of late Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk historical and archival traditions. She navigates the reader through the rich intricacies of the shaping of these historiographical traditions, while also educating about their value and relevance for our changing times.” – Dr Shainool Jiwa, Head of Constituency Studies & Senior Research Associate, The Institute of Ismaili Studies.
“The present monograph is a very important contribution to what is now termed ‘global medieval studies’ and, of course, the cultural history of the Islamicate world of the pre-modern era. Fozia Bora’s book should be read by all who are interested in understanding modes of knowledge production, creating narratives of the past and what constitutes an archive. She also asks very pertinent questions about how we approach pre-modern texts and as such this book should be really read by anybody interested in epistemological issues in medieval studies.” – Emilia Jamroziak, Professor of Medieval Religious History and Director of the Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
“In this carefully researched book, Fozia Bora achieves something remarkable: major advances not just in our understanding of Fatimid historiography and history, but more broadly in the sociology of classical Islamic scholarship. Empirically based and theoretically ambitious, it restores and interrogates narratives that had been lost to history.” – Chase F. Robinson, Distinguished Professor of History at City University of New York and Director of Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries
Fozia Bora is a lecturer in Middle Eastern History at the University of Leeds, UK, where she is also the Director of Postgraduate Research in Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.