Current debates and emerging trends in the history of science in premodern Islamicate societies

Nahyan Fancy, Justin Stearns, Sonja Brentjes, A. Tunç Şen, Scott Trigg, Noah Gardiner, Nükhet VarlıkRutgers, Matthew Melvin-Koushki, S. Nomanul Haq

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


This roundtable brings together contributions from nine senior, mid-career and junior scholars who work on the history of science in pre-1800 Islamicate societies. The contributions reflect upon some of the challenges that have historically constrained the subfield, how they have sought to overcome them, and what they see as some of the more productive and fruitful turns the field has taken and/or should take in the future. A central trend in all contributions is how they seek to confront the combined weight of colonialism, Orientalism, and the teleological history of science that continues to haunt contemporary discussions in both academia and the general public with regards to science in pre-1800 Islamicate societies. Without diminishing the pioneering achievements of the generations of historians who have preceded us, and upon whose work we continue to rely, this combined weight has tended a) to marginalize the study of occult sciences in Islamicate societies; b) to emphasize investigations of content from an etic perspective of how we got to the present, which is primarily seen as how the scientific content is connected to the rise of modern science in Europe; and c) to concomitantly marginalize the study of science in post-1200 Islamicate societies, particularly those with little to no connection to the rise of “Western” science. The contributions build upon conversations that took place among participants in December 2019 at a workshop at New York University (NYU), Abu Dhabi Institute in New York City, funded by a grant from NYU Abu Dhabi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-178
Number of pages56
JournalHistory of Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Islamic science
  • Ottoman science
  • early modern science
  • history of alchemy
  • history of astrology
  • history of astronomy
  • history of medicine
  • medieval science
  • occult science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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