Northwestern Events Calendar


Opening up a Few Corpses: Islam, Dissection and Modernity (Khaled Fahmy)

When: Monday, January 6, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM  

Where: Kresge Hall, Room 1-515 (The Forum), 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Center for Historical Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


This lecture describes the process of the introduction of modern medicine in early 19th-century Egypt. It describes how dissection was instituted as a central practice in the Qasr al-'Aini School of Medicine, Egypt's first institution of modern medicine founded in 1827. It charts how different segments of Egyptian society understood and reacted to this disturbing practice. It also follows the increasing reliance of a budding legal system on autopsies as a prime means to establish legal proof in criminal cases. As such, the lecture suggests how forensic medicine can be a lens through which a Muslim society's encounter with modern science can be understood.

Khaled Fahmy is Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies at the University of Cambridge. His research interests lie in the social and cultural history of the modern Middle East. He has written on military history, history of law (shari’a), history of medicine and of public hygiene – all with an emphasis on 19th-century Egypt. His books include In Quest of Justice: Islamic Law and Forensic Medicine in Modern Egypt (2018), Mehmed Ali: From Ottoman Governor to Ruler of Egypt (2008), Muhammad Ali Pasha and His Sabil (2005), The Body and Modernity: Essays in the History of Medicine and Law in Modern Egypt (in Arabic, 2004), and All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army and the Making of Modern Egypt (1997).

co-sponsored by the Chabraja Center for Historical Studies

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