August 15, 2022
An interactive, open-access born-digital publication, this groundbreaking book’s interface encourages engagement with rich visual material and multimedia evidence.
Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative and The MIT Press announce the publication of A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures by Shahzad Bashir. An interactive, open-access born-digital work, this groundbreaking book decenters Islam from a geographical identification with the Middle East, an articulation through men’s authority alone, and the assumption that premodern expressions are more authentically Islamic than modern ones. Aimed at a wide international audience, the book consists of engaging stories and audiovisual materials that will enable readers at all levels to appreciate Islam as an aspect of global history for centuries. The book URL is islamic-pasts-futures.org.
In A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures, Bashir discusses Islam as phenomenon and as discourse—observed in the built environment, material objects, paintings, linguistic traces, narratives, and social situations. He draws on literary genres, including epics, devotional poetry and prayers, and modern novels; art and architecture in varied forms; material culture, from luxury objects to cheap trinkets; and such forms of media as photographs, graffiti, and films.
“Ideas pertaining to Islam and other matters of social significance are enmeshed in structures of power. Understandings of history, including our own, are changeable; they appear and dissolve in tandem with particular human circumstances,” explains Bashir, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities and Professor of History and Religious Studies at Brown University. “This book urges us to see pasts and futures as fields of unlimited possibility that come alive through a combination of close observation and ethical positioning.”
Through multimedia enhancements and an interactive navigation system, A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures allows for an exploration of and engagement with rich visual material and multimedia evidence not possible in a printed volume. The book encourages readers to enter Islam through a diverse set of doorways, each leading to different time periods across different parts of the world.
The publication of A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures is supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative, and the MIT Press.