Ethnography of Book Collections in the Islamicate World


Ethnography of Book Collections in the Islamicate World

A Workshop

Istanbul, April 27-28, 2023


Convenors: Alfrid Bustanov (Universiteit van Amsterdam), Samet Yalçın (IRCICA), Philipp Khusnutdinov (Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences, Uzbekistan).

This workshop is part of the ERC Starting Grant The Muslim Individual in Imperial and Soviet Russia


The following (not exhaustive) list of questions will be covered:


Institutions. What forms did the book collections take in the Islamicate world? How did the private and waqf collections come into being? What was their difference from the state/ colonial collections? How the hybrid forms of Muslim and colonial archives could look like? What was the spatial organization and inner structure of archival institutions?

Individuals. Do we find the traces of individual subjectivity in the archives? Or was one’s subjectivity a result of engagement with the archives? Who collected and destroyed the archives? Are there any archives that were built beyond the reformist episteme or was the creation of the past a sole prerogative of Muslim reformers? How does one describe the personal experience of working with an archive as a curator or a visitor?

Objects. How did the objects end up in the archives? Were they classified, described or simply ignored altogether? What sources were deemed important and which of them remained out of the archival effort? What is the influence of the archive’s organizational form on object’s materiality? Can we speak of the ongoing circulation of objects in archival collections?

Representations. How do the objects become part of the public knowledge? What are the forms of representation and why? Who is the audience for the book collections today? What are the perspectives for the transformation of Muslim archives into the prominent actors of contemporary cultural life?


IRCICA Headquarters

Hoca Paşa Mahallesi, Alemdar Caddesi, No. 15, Bâbıâlî Girişi Cağaloğlu, 34110 Fatih İstanbul

General Directorate Building


April 27, Thursday


10.00 – 10.15. Introduction

10.15 – 11.45. Alfrid Bustanov (Amsterdam), De-Colonization of Islamicate Archives

11.45 – 12.00. Discussion.

12.00 – 12.15. Coffee break


Section I. The Private Collections

12.15 – 12.45. Bobur Aminov (Tashkent). Personal Experience in Collecting Manuscripts in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan

12.45 – 13.15. Ashirbek Muminov (Istanbul), Nodirjon Abdulakhatov (Tashkent). Private Collections in the FerghanaValley

13.15 – 13.45. Discussion.

14.00 – 15.00. Lunch.


Section II. Individual and Collective Identities

15.00 – 15.30. Shamil Shikhaliev (Amsterdam). Private Collections of Islamic Literature as a Representation of a Scholarly Persona.

16.00 – 16.30. Nasriddin Mirzaev (Tashkent). The Private Library of the Babakhanovs.

16.30 – 17.00. Discussion



April 28, Friday

Section III. Institutional Setting

10.00 – 10.30. Izzatulloh Mirzoev (Dushanbe). Arabic Manuscripts at the Centre of Written Heritage in Dushanbe

10.30 – 11.00. Rumeysa Nur Şahin (Istanbul). Süleymaniye Manuscript Library Book Collections: The Example of Haci Mahmut Effendi Collection

11.00 – 11.15. Coffee break

11.15 – 11.45. Rakhmatshoh Ismoilov (Dushanbe). Tajik Scholars and Their Manuscript Works

11.45 – 13.00. Discussion


13.00 – 14.00. Friday prayer

14.00 – 15.00. Lunch


Session IV. Archival Frames

15.00 – 15.30. Sanjar Gulomov (Tashkent). Uncatalogued Miscellanies in the Tashkent Collection

15.30 – 16.00. Alfrid Bustanov (Amsterdam). Against the Colonial Archive: On Erotic Poetry of ‘Abd al-Rahim al-Bulghari

16.00 – 17.00. Discussion.