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The Natural Sciences in Early Modern Morocco

35
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hosted by Shireen Hamza and Taylor Moore

| When you think of the history of science, what people and places come to mind? Scientific knowledge production flourished in early modern Morocco, and not in the places you might expect. This episode transports us into the intellectual and social worlds of Sufi lodges (zawāya) in seventeenth-century Morocco. Our guest, Justin Stearns, guides us through scholarly and educational landscapes far removed from the imperial urban centers of Fez and Marrakech. We discuss his new book, Revealed Sciences, which examines the development of the natural sciences through close study of works produced by rural Sufi scholars. Challenging the idea that the early modern period was one of intellectual decline, Stearns reveals the vibrant multi-ethnic, intellectual networks of the early modern Maghreb and the implications of their story for the history of science and the writing of history. We speak about paper mâché astrolabes, Borgesian fantasies, resisting the lure of triumphant narratives, and the importance of failure for creativity and innovation.

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