Michael E. Marmura Lecture Series in Arabic Studies: Dana Sajdi

When and Where

Friday, October 28, 2022 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
BF 200B
Bancroft Building


Dana Sajdi


Curating Palestinian Heritage:

Preliminary Thoughts on an 18th-century Library in Acre  (al-Jazzar’s al-Nur Ahmadiyya Library)


Endowed in the 18th-century in Acre by Ahmad Pasha al-Jazzar (d.1804),  al-Nur Ahmadiyya Library was established as a part of the governor’s famous mosque-college complex inside the walled city.  The recent discovery of this public library’s catalog reveals a relatively large holding of 1,800 volumes, a few of which survive in libraries around the world.  In this presentation, I will explore the history section, which includes about 160 entries. I will argue that the eclectic but consistent selection of books from humanities fields that exceed the topic of history seems to be a realization of the Arabic proverb, “a flower from every meadow.” Yet, the result is a well-ordered garden that betrays nothing less than royal aspirations. In short, this is not the usual college library.  

Dana Sajdi (Ph.D., Columbia University 2002) is Associate Professor of History at Boston College. She is the author of The Barber of Damascus: Nouveau Literacy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Levant (2013, Turkish and Arabic translations in 2018); editor of Ottoman Tulips, Ottoman Coffee: Leisure and Lifestyle in the Eighteenth Century (2008, in Turkish 2014) and coeditor of Transforming Loss into Beauty: Essays in Arabic Literature and Culture in Memory of Madga Al-Nowaihi (2008).  She is the recipient of several fellowships including from Princeton University, Wissenschfatskolleg zu Berlin (EUME); Research Center for Anatolian Civilization; MIT-Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture; and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is working on the history of Damascus based on a local tradition of textual representations of the city between 12th-20th centuries.

*This event is presented in Conjunction with Hearing Palestine and the Seminar in Ottoman and Turkish Studies.
**This event is 'In Person only'.