Muhamed Osman Al Khalil, New York University Abu Dhabi
Title: Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi and Sayyid Qutb: Intersections and Divergences in Life and Art
Abstract: In the second issue (October 1932) of his celebrated but short-lived Apollo Magazine, Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi, then at the height of his literary and professional fame, published a darkly emotional poem by an unknown 26 year-old student named Sayyid Qutb, the man later considered by many to be the ideological father of modern radical Islamism. In an uncustomary action for the magazine, Abu Shadi attached to the poem a tongue-in-cheek set of school-type literary analysis questions. While Abu Shadi sought to question the literary significance of a budding rival, his move on Qutb probably drew more attention to the man and his potential. Over the next two decades, the two men would have more in common in the worlds of poetry and politics than they would have liked to acknowledge. This paper examines the commonalities between them and how these ultimately led them on to different but equally disappointing Egyptian pathways.
Robert Brodschneider, Institute of Biology, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Title: The continuing history of Bee World - the bee research journal founded by Abushâdy
Abstract: Ahmed Zaki Abushâdy was a passionate beekeeper, inventor of innovations in beekeeping and publisher of honey bee research. During his time in the United Kingdom, Abushâdy did not only found a beekeeping club (the ‘Apis club’, Apis is the taxonomic genus of the honey bees), but also the journal The Bee World, the official organ of the Apis club. These two foundations, and the patent of an aluminum honeycomb saw the light in 1919, a seminal year for his bee career. As he states in the first editorial, ‘this periodical […] has no smaller function in aiming at the exposition of the best gifts of other people to the Science and Practice of Bee Culture.’ The journal contained different article sections, similar to recent journals, including editorial, original contributions, book reviews, press mirror, the arena (letters to the editor), and even bee news and gossip. Abushâdy himself edited the journal until 1926.
Twenty years later, Eva Crane, a renowned editor, writer, and researcher on the honey bee and beekeeping turned the journal into a well-known scientific magazine. Publication of the journal was taken over by the (International) Bee Research Association. The journal was almost continuously published since then and celebrated its centenary in 2019. Due to a short hiatus in publication, volume 100 of the journal is only published in 2023. The journal nowadays is published by the Taylor & Francis Group. Four issues are published a year, and the journal is up to date regarding the editorial and publishing processes. Authors from all over the world share their original research, review articles or other material on the honey bee and beekeeping in the journal. All articles published since 1919 are available online, including about 20 articles (mostly announcements, editorials, or technical texts) written or co-written by Abushâdy. Altogether, more than 6,700 articles published in the last 104 years are available electronically.
Bio: Dr. Robert Brodschneider is a biologist working as a researcher at the University of Graz. In his master and Phd studies he already focused on honey bees, which are since then in the focus of his research. He does research on the behavior, physiology and health of honey bees. Since 2008 he is monitoring honey bee colony losses in Austria for identification of risk factors. Since 2014 he is coordinating the COLOSS core project “monitoring of honey bee colony losses,” which collects honey bee colony mortality data from more than 30 countries. Robert has great interest in including beekeepers as citizen scientists in his research. During his career he was involved in five European Union funded projects and several national research projects. He published 50 scientific articles (h-index = 20) which were cited more than 2300 times. in addition to the University of Graz, he also teaches apiculture in Vienna, at the University of Life Sciences and the Veterinarian University. Since 2018, he is the ninth academic editor in history of the journal Bee World.
Raphael Cormack, Durham University
Title: Fake It to Make It: The Ismail Edham Story
Abstract: Ismail Edham was one of Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi’s most enthusiastic associates in the 1930s. A young Turkish writer and critic he lived in Alexandria, where he worked on a series of books on the literary heavy weights of the period: Taha Hussein, Tawfiq al-Hakim, etc. He English language biography, Abushady the Poet, is one of the most freely accessible book on Abu Shady.
But its author is something of an enigma. He claimed to have a PhD from the University of Moscow, to have been a professor of High Mathematics at the University of St Petersburg and then to have become Professor of Islamic History in Istanbul. He was a fearless truthteller, his book Why I am an Atheist, which attacked the fundamentals of religion caused a stir in Egyptian intellectual circles at the end of the 1930s. In 1940, his body was discovered at a beach in Alexandria with a suicide note attached to it.
In his short life, Ismail Edham left a big mark. The problem is, most of his life story was almost certainly false. In 1972, the Leiden based Hadith Scholar GHA Juynboll published an article meticulously taking apart almost all of Edham’s claims about himself.
We are left, then, with the question that this paper seeks to address: How do we write history about someone who’s story is entirely fabricated. Comparing the lives of several other people who passed through Egypt in the 1930s with constructed life stories — two mystics by the name of Dr. Dahesh and Tahra Bey for example — I ask how we start writing the Fake History of the 1930s.
Bio: Raphael Cormack is Assistant Professor of Arabic at Durham University. He works on performance and the popular culture of the 20th century Arab world. His most recent book, Midnight in Cairo, came out in 2021 and he is working on a book on Spiritualism between the Arab world and the West.
Clare Davies, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Title: Tagore in Egypt
Abstract: Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) visited Egypt in 1926. A photograph taken that year in the Suez Canal city of Port Said shows the celebrated Indian writer, painter, and public intellectual posing with scientist, beekeeper, and Romantic poet Ahmad Zaki Abushâdy (1892-1955) and other future members of the group associated with the literary journal Apollo (1932-1934).
This paper explores for the first time Tagore’s significance to Egypt’s interwar cultural sphere, where he consistently represented an anticolonial politics while also being claimed by opposing sides in a debate around the nature of a modern Egyptian aesthetic. At stake were two distinct models of how politics and aesthetics aligned in a colonial context: Abushâdy and the Apollo Society associated Tagore with an Apollonian aesthetics based on ideals of beauty, order, and reason, while the “surrealist” Arts and Liberty group linked him with a Dionysian aesthetics of ecstasy, revelry, and disorder. At the same time, both groups found common cause in positing Tagore as an avatar for a non-Western model of modernity. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s visit to Egypt in 1938 cemented Tagore’s status in this regard, pitting the latter’s “religion of immobility” against a Futurist “religion of speed” and the Fascist and colonial Italian state with which Futurism was linked.
Bio: Davies joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2015 as the museum’s first curator of Modern and Contemporary Art with a specialization in art from the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. Since then, she has built the foundations of The Met's collection holdings in this area, acquiring major works from across the region. She curated the first US retrospective of Iranian-American artist Siah Armajani, titled Siah Armajani: Follow This Line at the Walker Art Center and the Met Breuer in 2018 and 2019, as well as an exhibition in 2021 of works by Massoud Arabshahi, Firamaz Pilaram, and Ardeshir Mohassess, all of which have been gifted to the Museum in recent years. She was a co-curator alongside Kim Benzel and the artist of the exhibition Rayyane Tabet: Alien Property (2019-2021), an exhibition which dealt with questions of provenance and museum historiography. Most recently, she curated the first comprehensive exhibition of paintings by Louise Bourgeois (titled Louise Bourgeois: Paintings) at The Met and the New Orleans Museum of Art in 2022.
She holds a PhD in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and devoted her dissertation to thinking through the methodological demands of the colonial and postcolonial site on art history, with a study of 19th and 20th century art in Egypt.
Joy Amina Garnett, Evergreen Review
Title: Behind the Scenes: How an Archive Gets Made
Abstract: I will share the colorful inside story of how I came upon the materials left behind by my late grandfather Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi (1892-1955) that now constitute the Abu Shadi archive at NYUAD Library. I will describe how, over time and with help from friends and scholars, I negotiated a jumble of papers and keepsakes, and organized them into a houseable collection. I will briefly focus on some of the more surprising aspects of these materials and my efforts to understand them both for my own projects and towards the ultimate goal of making the collection accessible.
Bio: Joy Amina Garnett is an artist and writer in Los Angeles whose work explores forgotten histories through archival materials. Granddaughter of the Egyptian poet Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi, she served as the steward of her family archive until it was acquired by NYUAD in 2020. Her artworks have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum, MoMA PS1, FLAG Art Foundation (all in New York); the Milwaukee Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Craft Portland; and the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, DC). Her writings and artworks have appeared in Arab Urbanism Magazine (forthcoming in 2023); Rusted Radishes (American University in Beirut); Ibraaz (Kamal Lazaar Foundation); Cultural Politics (Duke University Press); Evergreen Review (New York); Full Blede (Los Angeles); The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook (powerHouse Books 2016); and Cultural Entanglement in the Pre-Independence Arab World (I.B. Tauris/Bloomsbury 2020). She is currently completing a family memoir. Please visit https://joygarnett.net for more information.
Anthony Gorman, University of Edinburgh
Title: An International Evening in Port Said (1926): Abu Shadi and his Intellectual Networks
Abstract: Within the archival collection of the Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi is a group photograph showing a row of seated figures outside, with some children on the ground in front of them and a standing figure at the back. In the center of the picture is Rabindranath Tagore, Indian polymath and Nobel laureate in Literature, who was visiting Egypt briefly on his way back to India after a trip to Europe. On the right is Dr Apostolos Skouphopoulos, a medical doctor, union leader and man of letters, and on the far right Abu Shadi himself. Taken in Port Said in early December 1926 this photograph will serve as a point of departure firstly to examine the circumstances that brought together these three intellectuals and then to go on to discuss the international character of intellectual life in Egypt at this time.
Bio: Anthony Gorman is Senior Lecturer in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Historians, State and Politics in Twentieth Century Egypt (2003), and has co-edited and contributed to a number of volumes: The Long 1890s in Egypt; Colonial Quiescence, Subterranean Resistance (2014); Diasporas of the Modern Middle East, Contextualising Community (2015); The Press in the Middle East and North Africa, 1850-1950 (2018); and Cultural Entanglement in the Pre-Independence Arab World: Arts, Thought and Literature (2021), and has published a number of other articles on Egyptian political and social history. He continues to work on a history of the Middle Eastern prison, the anarchist movement in the Eastern Mediterranean before 1914, and aspects of the Greek presence of modern Egypt.
May Hawas, Newnham College, Cambridge, UK
Title: How to Hide an Archive: The Alexandrian Case
Abstract: Traditionally, the scholarly idea is that public resistance and individual critical work saves an archive. This idea is fallacious. Historically, two things have helped create an archive within a given country: political imperative and coincidence. The first can sometimes also depend on the latter. While prescient state planning does sustain an archive, and while it takes persistent, back-breaking individual effort, sometimes given under great duress, to build an archive, valuing an archive as an archive on a national level has, historically, been prompted by the spurt of possession and the search for capital. What if individuals’ consecration of value doesn’t align with what the state finds valuable? Here are two anecdotes: finding Etiemble in Alexandria and losing Cavafy in Athens.
Bio: May Hawas is Assistant Professor in World Literature at the University of Cambridge and Valerie Eliot Fellow of English at Newnham College. She is the author of Politicising World Literature: Egypt, Between Pedagogy and the Public (awarded the Balakian Prize 2022), and The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian Writer in the Swinging Sixties. She is also the editor of The Routledge Companion to World Literature and World History. May is a founding member of the editorial board of The Journal of World Literature (Brill), and a member of the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA/AILC) executive research committee.
Mostafa Heddaya, Princeton
Title: Dusé’s Parts, Abu Shadi’s Spectacles (Some Modernist Optics at the Limit of Egypt)
Abstract: In parallactic attention to Dusé Mohamed Ali (1866–1945) and Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi’s intersected trajectories, I scope closely the relevance of theatricality to representational forms taken up by these two figures. Contemporaries as publishers in London during the second decade of the twentieth century, this duo otherwise resists analytical twinning along conventional axes of similarity. If the historical dissonances of modern art in Egypt call for stretched modes of reception (with distance enough for one recent scholar to telescope it as “constellational modernism”), how is method made so limber? My paper finally raises the question of the combinatorial social categories which lens modernist study for art history. A consideration of such optics in light of Dusé and Abu Shadi might cast in turn a critically ambivalent eye to pictorial caesurae in the history of modern Egypt and art history’s place within and without it.
Bio: Mostafa Heddaya is a joint doctoral candidate in the Department of Art & Archaeology and the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University (USA). Trained in modern and African art history, his dissertation addresses the inter-imperial formations of modernism in Egypt. He has contributed to Artforum, Art in America, e-flux journal, Nka, and Yishu, among other periodicals and publications.
Daniel Lowe, British Library
Title: Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi in the British Library’s collections; or, Why does the British Library hold so many books by Abu Shadi?
Abstract: In Cairo in 1931, Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi published a 27-page booklet containing his rendering of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam into Arabic verse. Some eighty or so years later, I took up my job as curator the Arabic collections at the British Library and I happened upon a copy of this book while tackling an extensive cataloging backlog. I had encountered Abu Shadi’s poetry as a student around a decade and half before, so this book peaked my curiosity and I posted an image of its cover on Twitter. This in turn led to a chance and happy encounter with Abu Shadi’s granddaughter, the artist Joy Amina Garnett. In 2017, while on a work trip to the United States, I had the opportunity to meet Joy in person who introduced me to the Abu Shadi Archive that she had collected and assembled in her New York studio prior to it finding its current home at NYU Abu Dhabi. Connecting with Joy and encountering the archive led me to consider what further publications by Abu Shadi might be found within the British Library’s collections and how they came to be there.
My presentation represents ongoing cataloguing and bibliographic research on the holdings of books, periodicals and other materials by and about Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi that were gathered and archived in the most part by the British Museum Library and India Office Library, the two of the predecessor institutions whose collections make up today’s British Library. I aim to show the scope and extent of these publications within Library’s collections, which for many years have been relatively unknown or inaccessible to our readers and the community of researchers interested in Abu Shadi’s life and works. Thinking through historical and contemporary methods of acquisition and issues around provenance, and by examining extra-textual traces in the books themselves, as well as in institutional archival material, I will account for why the British Library holds such an extensive range Abu Shadi’s literary and non-literary outputs. Through my presentation, I hope to add to knowledge about how Abu Shadi has been “archived” and to question the extent to which Abu Shadi himself may have demonstrated an “archival impulse” or “archival intent” in the dissemination of his published output. This in turn may have relevant implications for modern Arabic literary figures whose publications can be found at the British Library and other institutional collections.
Bio: Daniel is an award-winning curator who oversees the British Library’s Arabic collections. Working across a diverse range of formats — including manuscripts, archives, print and digital — he takes a leading role in building and interpreting collections, as well as research and engagement activities with partners both in the United Kingdom and internationally. Between 2015 and 2019 he co-curated the Shubbak Literature Festival at the British Library with Alice Guthrie. He curated the exhibition Comics and Cartoon Art from the Arab World at the British Library in 2017. In 2021, he co-curated the Histories and Archives of Arabic Publishing series with Dr Hana Sleiman. His work has been recognized by Art Fund who awarded him the prestigious New Collecting Award in 2022. He is a trustee of the British Institute of the Iraq (BISI), part of the British Academy’s British International Research Institutes (BIRI) network, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts in 2019. Prior to joining the British Library he worked on a number of cultural heritage and museum projects in the Gulf. He holds a degree in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford and diplomas in Modern Standard Arabic and Islamic Codicology from the University of Tunis and Complutense University of Madrid respectively.
Robin Ostle, St. John’s College, Oxford University
Title: Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi and the Romantic Paradigm
Abstract: In various national contexts and in different regions, Romanticism has been one of the most important movements in cultural history. It was of course a fundamental source of inspiration for literature, music and the fine arts, but it also affected the ways in which people thought about history and science. This paper will consider the extent to which Abu Shadi was the embodiment of the Romantic ideal through the extraordinary range of his activities as poet, publisher, scientist, nationalist and vigorous proponent of Mediterranean culture. It will also attempt an assessment of Abu Shadi the poet, a difficult task because of the voluminous and varied nature of his output.
Bio: Robin Ostle is Emeritus Research Fellow in Modern Arabic at St. John's College, University of Oxford. His principal research interests are modern Arabic poetry and modern literature and the fine arts in Egypt. Recent publications include the edited volumes Studying Modern Arabic Literature (with Roger Allen) (Edinburgh University Press, 2015) and Modern Literature in the Near and Middle East 1850-1970 (2nd edition, Routledge, 2017).
Deborah A. Starr, Cornell University
Title: Migrating Archives of Migration
Abstract: Demands for repatriation of art objects are based on a premise that material cultural heritage belongs at its place of origin. This territorially-grounded vision is frequently articulated through a national frame — appealing for a restoration of national cultural heritage. What of the material archives — the personal papers and ephemera — of a transnational subject? On the occasion of the inauguration of the Ahmed Zaki Abu Shady archive at NYU Abu Dhabi, I examine the phenomenon of migrating archives of migratory subjects in the context of Egyptian colonial-cosmopolitan history. In dialog with scholarship on “the archive,” I reflect on the broader questions raised by migrating archives of migration in the digital age. Drawing on experiences working with personal archives of transnational Egyptian writers and cultural producers, I seek to situate these large questions within the lives and trajectories individual subjects, as well as in the objects, texts, and ideas they leave behind.
Bio: Deborah Starr is a professor of modern Arabic and Hebrew literature and film in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. She writes and teaches about issues of identity and inter-communal exchange in Middle Eastern literature and film, with a focus on the Jews of Egypt. She is the author of Togo Mizrahi and The Making of Egyptian Cinema (University of California Press, 2020) and Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture, and Empire (Routledge 2009). She is currently working on a new book about performances of race and gender in early Egyptian cinema. Starr was the PI on a grant to digitize and create an open-access archive of the personal papers of Egyptian novelist Waguih Ghali. Work with another personal archive led to the publication with Sasson Somekh, of Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff (Stanford University Press, 2011). Starr has also published articles in a variety of journals on cosmopolitanism and levantinism in modern Arabic and Hebrew literatures and in Egyptian cinema.