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Yemeni Manuscript Collections and Zaydi Studies Conference to Be Held in US

“Yemeni Manuscript Collections and Zaydi Studies” International Conference -is part of a larger endeavor aimed at fostering the scholarly exploration of all aspects of Shiism: the “Shii Studies Research Program- will be held at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ.

Conference topics include:

• the (premodern and contemporary) history of Zaydism in Yemen and in Iran;
• the history and / or current status of Zaydi manuscript repositories, including questions of codicology and material culture;
• history of Zaydi religious and political thought, law and hadith.

The scholarly exploration of Zaydism started later than is the case for most other areas of Islamic Studies. Among Western scholars, it was only towards the end of the nineteenth century that substantial collections of Zaydi manuscripts were purchased by European libraries. The first pioneers of Zaydi studies were Rudolf Strothmann who worked primarily on the Glaser collection in Berlin and who published a first survey of Zaydi literature in 1910 and 1911, and Eugenio Griffini who worked on the Caprotti collection in Milan, partial descriptions of which he began to publish around the same time. Over the course of the twentieth century, other scholars also contributed to the slowly growing field, with important contributions coming from scholars from Yemen, Egypt, and Iran.
Despite the progress that has been made, the field is still in its infancy with many areas such as Zaydi hadith or fiqh still being completely neglected. The principal reason for this neglect has been the lack of availability of primary sources, as the Zaydi manuscript tradition is dispersed in numerous European and US libraries, this in addition to the many public and private libraries in Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries (e.g. Turkey and Saudi Arabia). In recent years digital technology has helped to improve the availability of at least parts of the Zaydi manuscript tradition. The purpose of the Summer School will be to familiarize the participants with the main fields of Zaydi studies and, most importantly, the Zaydi manuscript tradition. Over the course of the week-long summer school, the participants will be introduced to the major historical developments of Zaydi law, hadith, and religious thought and the pertinent literary genres, in addition to the political history of Zaydism in Iran and in Yemen. Each topic will be approached through an analysis of a select number of source texts in manuscript, which will also familiarize the participants with the characteristics of the Iranian and the Yemeni Zaydi manuscript tradition.
The summer school is open to PhD students and PostDocs. Applications, which should include a CV, brief statement on current research project, and letter of motivation, should be submitted by March 31, 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by April 15, 2018. Their travel expenses (economy) as well as accommodation and board will be covered through the “Shii Studies Reseach Program”

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