Reimagining Unani Medicine
This panel invites papers which seek to reimagine the timeline and geographic scope of the Graeco-Arabic medical tradition, and its practice. To date, much scholarly ink has been spilled charting the “Golden Age” of Islamic science, often focusing on the development of Graeco-Arabic medicine in cities in and around the Levant until the eleventh century. The subsequent late medieval and early modern periods are generally narrated as a time of intellectual stagnation and decline at the hands of the religious establishment, which was only reversed with the rise of European scientific knowledge and globalizing medical practices in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This panel invites papers that problematize this well-ingrained narrative’s boundaries – geographic, temporal, linguistic and cultural – by exploring Graeco-Arabic medical theory and practice.
In keeping with the conference theme we welcome papers that take up, but are not limited to, the following questions:
What did Graeco-Arabic and Unani medical practice look like outside of the Levant, in regions from the Maghreb to Southeast Asia?
What did medical practice look like, beyond the literate physician-scholars?
What would reimagined boundaries for medical practices look like, beyond post-Cold War regional divisions, such as the "Middle East" and "South Asia," both historically and today? What picture of Asian medical practice emerges by connecting more traditional textual sources with the emergent scholarship on material exchange along the Silk Road, the Maritime Silk Road and other Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Mediterranean trade routes?
Was the “Golden Age” narrative ever relevant to Unani (/Yūnānī) and other traditional practitioners who continued use this medical knowledge into the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries? How did/do Asian practitioners imagine themselves in relationship to the original sites of Graeco-Arabic translation, if at all?
How can re-writing the history of Graeco-Arabic and Unani medical knowledge and practice challenge conventional understandings of “center” and “periphery” with regard to knowledge production, and what new frameworks emerge if we do?