FSTC Contributes to the ICHSTM 2013 in Manchester

Published Date: 
24 July 2013

In July 2013, Manchester is the venue of the 24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine (ICHSTM). The Congress is organised between Sunday 21 - Sunday 28 July 2013. Its theme this year is Knowledge at Work. The ICHSTM is the largest event in the field, and takes place every four years. Recent meetings have been held in Mexico City (2001), Beijing (2005) and Budapest (2009). In 2013, the Congress is taking place in Manchester, the chief city of Northwest England, and the original "shock city" of the Industrial Revolution.

The Congress covers all specialties, periods and themes of the history of science in a broad sense, and devotes many sessions to the connected fields of history of science and medicine, in all periods of world intellectual history and geographic areas. Among the fields in which several sessions are organised, Islamic sciences, medicine and technology have always been represented in the symposia and meetings of the ICHSTM. In 1013, the sessions presenting the latest results of research on the scientific and medical traditions of the classical Arabic and Islamic worlds relate to Islamic astronomy (S129), the foundations of sciences (S012), the transfer of medical knowledge (S060), the historical and cultural dimensions of Islamic science (S102), and science, technology and medicine in the Ottoman period (S199).

This year, the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC), whose main offices are located at Manchester, contributed to the ICHSTM by members and scholars of its research team and by sponsoring one of the sessions dedicated to Islamic medicine: the symposium S060 about The transmission of medical knowledge in the Islamic world.

The symposium S060 is organised by Peter E Pormann (University of Manchester, UK) and Pauline Koetschet (the French Institute for Oriental Archeology, IFAO, Cairo, Egypt) and. Its two sessions are chaired respectively by Professor Salim al-Hassani (President of FSTC) on Tuesday 23 July (14:10–15:40) and Professor Mohamed El-Gomati (University of York, UK and Chairman of FSTC) on Tuesday 23 July (16:10–17:40) (see more details here).

(From Left) Prof Mohamed El-Gomati, Chairman of FSTC and Prof Peter Pormann with
Prof. Salim Al-Hassani, President of FSTC, at the Royal College of Physicians

The symposium on “the transmission of medical knowledge in the Islamic world” departs from a central theme of history of science and medicine regarding the transmission of knowledge between periods and cultures. In the history of science in general and the history of medicine in particular, translation played a crucial role. It often was through the contact with other cultures that scientific and medical ideas developed. The symposium organised on this subject in the ICHSTM and sponsored by FSTC focusses on the transmission of medical ideas, and breaks new ground in that it challenges the facile idea that medicine was transmitted from Greek into Arabic and hence into Latin. In fact, a multiplicity of encounters took place that included Ancient Egyptian and Indian material. Furthermore, the concrete examples of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, ʾAbū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyāʾ al-Rāzī, and Qusṭā ibn Lūqā demonstrate that Arabic-speaking physicians in the Abbasid domain did not merely transmit previous knowledge, but in fact engaged with it critically. This critical engagement is also visible in the many Arabic commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms, thus showing that commentaries often constituted venues for innovation and change. One can perhaps even perceive here certain aspects of evidence-based medicine. Finally, European university medicine drew heavily on the Arabic medical tradition, and vice versa, as examples from the Ottoman period illustrate.

The program of the symposium includes the following lectures:

Prof Rabie E. Abdel-Halim, FSTC Researcher with Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of OIC

Another event organised by FSTC on the margin of the ICHSTM in Manchester is a dinner for international guests. Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the world known historian of science, past president of the International Union of History of Science and present Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), also one of the key founding associates of FSTC, gave a complimentary dinner speech in which he has praised the resounding success of FSTC.

(From Left) Prof Mohamed El-Gomati, Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Prof Salim Al-Hassani and Ian Kendrick, Management Consultant at FSTC