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Middle East Studies

Cyril Villarosa Uy II conducts dissertation archival research in Istanbul with MES Research Travel Award funds

August 29, 2019

As a recipient of a Middle East Studies Research Travel Award, Cyril Villarosa Uy II traveled to Istanbul, utilizing the Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi archives for his dissertation, entitled "Lost in a Sea of Letters: Saʿd al-Dīn Ḥamuwayī (d. 1252) and the Plurality of Sufi Knowledge,” which focuses on the life and work of Saʿd al-Dīn Ḥamuwayī, an influential Mongol-era Sufi, whose esoteric speculations on the alphabet, the universe, and human perfection both bewildered and inspired future generations of occultists, mystics, and messiahs. The project links Saʿd al-Dīn to a network of Sufi figures spanning across the Mediterranean, the Iranian Plateau, and Central Asia, exploring how these thinkers defined and produced knowledge as a means of negotiating identity and relationships of power, wielding a variety of discursive strategies to articulate distinct positions within the diverse social, intellectual, and political contexts of the medieval Islamic world. In addition to identifying and collecting copies of Saʿd al-Dīn's treatises, he analyzed the material and organizational features of the manuscripts in which they were contained, comparing these to collections comprised of works written by Ḥamuwayī's interlocutors.