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Making History: Identity, Progress and the Modern-Science Archive

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image of Journal of Early Modern History

The history of pre- and early-modern science, medicine, and technology in the Islamicate world has been traditionally charted around certain signposts: Translation, Golden Age, and Decline. These signposts tethered the history of Islamic sciences to a European story that culminates in the Scientific Revolution and that links European colonial expansion (causally and chronologically) to modernity. This article looks at the roots of the classical narrative of the history of Islamic sciences and explores its connections to the production of colonial sciences and the proliferation of colonial education. Moving beyond the validity or accuracy of the Golden-Age/Decline narrative, it asks about the archives that such a narrative constructs and the viability of categories and chronologies, such as the “early modern,” in thinking about histories of the Global South, in general, and of the Islamicate “world” in particular.

Affiliations: 1: Harvard University


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