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Lost Archives, Sacrosanct Wastebins and the Jewish Communities of the Medieval Islamicate World

Lost Archives, Sacrosanct Wastebins and the Jewish Communities of the Medieval Islamicate World

Lecture by Marina Rustow

Given at the University of California, Los Angeles, on January 21, 2020

The medieval Middle East, where the vast majority of medieval Jews lived, is widely presumed to have produced few documentary texts and preserved next to none. But tens of thousands of documents have survived—for the period before 1100, more than survived from Europe. The find spots range from Cairo to China. This illustrated lecture will take account of a flood of new information these caches offer about the Jewish communities of the Middle Ages, their surprisingly broad geographic remit and the impact of mobility and distance on communal life.

Marina Rustow is the Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East at Princeton University, where she runs the Princeton Geniza Lab and holds a joint appointment in the departments of Near Eastern Studies and History. Her second book, The Lost Archive: Traces of a Caliphate in a Cairo Synagogue, has just been published by Princeton University Press. In 2015, she was named a MacArthur Fellow. You can follow her on Twitter @mrustow

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Top Image: Fragment of the Cairo Genizah – The Passover Haggadah – photo by University of Haifa Younes & Soraya Nazarian Library / Wikimedia Commons

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