About the MCA
The Rational Behind the Project
Global understanding depends crucially on the sharing of knowledge across linguistic and cultural divides. There is a need for equal access to scholarly resources and a common understanding of where the frontiers of knowledge lie. Much valuable and original work published in Muslim societies remains largely unknown in Europe and America. Even within the Muslim world there is a lack of scholarly exchange. Thus, scholarship about Muslim societies has proceeded without taking much account of writings produced in countries outside Europe and North America.
The Muslim Civilisations Abstracts was conceived to allow equal access to these materials, and highlights the universal relevance of issues facing Muslim societies. It aims to bridge this gulf by providing a database of abstracts about works concerning Muslim civilisations. The reviewed titles are selected works of scholarship involving original research and analysis, advances in relevant methodology and creative contributions to the dialogue about intellectual and social problems affecting Muslims. The MCA aspires to include abstracts of titles relevant to Muslim civilisations from around the world. Considering the huge amount of literature produced on the subject, the ambition of the project will be limited initially to covering the Muslim world, but will include China, India, Russia, and South Eastern Europe, where large Muslim communities have been living for centuries.
The MCA project provides a platform for researchers to access perspectives published in less accessible languages and stresses the diversity of societies with significant Muslim presence by disseminating a variety of perspectives published in less accessible languages and stresses the diversity of societies with a significant Muslim presence by disseminating a variety of perspectives within and outside Muslim contexts.
At present, three MCA volumes have been published by Edinburgh University Press in English, Turkish and Arabic. These cover the topic of encyclopaedias, law and ethics and cities:
Encyclopedias about Muslim Civilisations. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.
Interpretations of Law & Ethics in Muslim Contexts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012.
Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
The future medium for this exchange of knowledge will be the Internet. Muslim Civilisations Abstracts will be made available as a free, open-access online database. For regions where access to internet might be an issue, the Aga Khan University might be able to make special arrangements.
The aim of this endeavour is to create a comprehensive bibliographical resource of modern scholarship on Muslim civilisations, covering subjects in humanities and social sciences. Abstracts of these works are translated and searchable in multiple languages, maximising accessibility to, and cross-fertilisation of knowledge about Muslim cultures.
Every year the MCA project engages in a new theme. Whilst the previously selected themes remain open to further contributions, contributors are encouraged to recommend titles related to the subsidised theme.
The first phase (2006-08) comprehends a substantial database of abstracts on modern encyclopædias about the Muslim world, with an annotated bibliography. From 2009 onwards the project has focused on books published exclusively in the developing countries where the language of research is less widely used in the international academic arena.
In a practical sense, the project is thematically organised. Besides encyclopaedias, the project has covered themes such as Law and Ethics, Cities and currently has taken up the themes of Governance, Gender Studies, and Education. Further information regarding the project’s focus can be found under the field of Themes.
Later phases of the project will in turn cover the main fields of the humanities and social sciences: history, philosophy, theology, literatures, the arts, geography, anthropology, sociology, economics, politics, etc.
The abstracts are commissioned to impartial scholars of various ethnic and religious background and can be written in eight languages: Arabic, English, French, Indonesian/Malay, Persian, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.
If you are interested in surveying and writing brief abstracts of such works, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Abstract writers and translators will be remunerated for their contribution.