Ellen Amster
Department of History
End-of-Year Fellowship Report for 2005-06

I am grateful to the Center for 21st Century Studies, which gave me the intellectual support to revise the second chapter of my book manuscript, Medicine and Sainthood: Islamic Science, French Colonialism, and the Politics of Healing, 1877-1935. This chapter focuses on the relationship between wilaya (political authority) and walaya (spiritual guardianship, saintly power) as expressed through traditional healing. The feedback I received in seminar helped my research in Morocco 2005-6. I translated much of a work of Moroccan hagiography, Salwat al-Anfas by Muhammad ibn Ja’far al-Kittani, visited and documented saint shrines and cemetaries photographically, and began to collect oral memories. I presented my new work at the International Medieval Studies Conference in Kalamazoo, MI May 4-7, 2006.

The time buyout and financial support of the Center has also allowed me to advance considerably on another project, “Magic of the Moors: Science, Religion and Judeo-Islamic Exchange in Morocco.” In this project, I argue Moroccan “magic” is the trace of theological, mystical and scientific exchange between Jewish and Muslim populations in Morocco and Andalousian Spain. This exchange survives in the symbolic system of ‘alm al-jadwal, the “science” of medical talismans. I will present my work in Great Britain at the Society for the Social History of Medicine conference at the University of Warwick in June 28-July 1, 2006. The Center research support budget allowed me to purchase many books on the Zohar, Kabbala, and French Orientalism necessary for my work. Thanks to the Center support, I was also able to apply for and be accepted by the Coolidge scholars Program of Crosscurrents Magazine at Columbia University in New York City. This program will allow me to continue my work on the magic project in summer of 2006 at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.


papers presented
“Midwifery in Morocco, or How Greek (“Unani”) Medicine became Muslim,” at the International Conference on Traditional Asian Medicine April 27-30 in Austin, Texas.

“Medicine and the Saints: Healing as Politics in Pre-Protectorate Morocco” at the International Congress on Medieval Studies May 4-7 in Kalamazoo, MI.

Magic of the Moors: Judeo-Islamic Exchange and Medical Practice in Morocco” at the Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference at the University of Warwick, UK, June 28-July 1.

arrticles in progress
“Harem Medicine, Slavery, and the Islamic-French Family: The Career of Aline de Lens in Morocco.”

A translation of physiology chapters from Dawwud al-Antaki’s Tadhkirat ala al-albab wa al-jamia’ al-ajab.

A translation of a Moroccan midwifery text, “Epistle in the Illnesses of Women.”

“Magic of the Moors: Science, Religion and Judeo-Islamic Exchange in Morocco.”

book manuscripts in progress
Translation of first volume of Kitab salwat al-anfas wa muhadathat al-akiyas mi-man uqbira min al-ulama wa al-sulaha bi Fas, by Muhammad ibn Ja’far al-Kittani, lithographed Arabic edition originally 1898.

“Medicine and Sainthood: Islamic Science, French Colonialism and the Politics of Healing, 1877-1935.”

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