Title

First Five Hundred Years of the Arabic Book: The Native Origin of the Authors

Document Type

Article

Abstract

What do we know about the authors of the earliest Arabic books in terms of their native origins and linguistic and cultural backgrounds? Were the majority of them Arabic-speaking Muslims from imperial capitals, or non-Arab converts or even non-Muslims? Could this information be useful in tracing the flow and formation of ideas and culture? To answer these questions computationally, one must begin with creating a corpus of texts – in this case the OpenITI – including robust metadata for the texts and their authors. In this blog, I will discuss the question of the native origins of scholars and authors of early Islamicate society based on a sub-corpus of the OpenITI, which includes all the texts in the corpus written within the first five centuries of Islam ending at 505/1111, al-Ghazali’s death date. More generally, I hope to show how a combination of quantitative and macro-analytic approaches can be useful for the study of premodern Arabic texts and the history of the Arabic book and its authors.

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