Unveiling Middle East Science – A Reading List

June 26: See key additions at bottom.

For those heading to or curious about the World Conference of Science Journalists starting on Monday in Doha, here’s a reading list related to the “Unveiling Arab Science,” Monday’s opening plenary. (Mo and I plead guilty to use of reductive metaphor in that title; it’s really about science in the Middle East region, including non-Arab countries and cultures.) When Mo Costandi and I first conceived the plenary last year, this title carried two meanings: Unveiling a deep history of science in the region; and unveiling to the journalistic audience what distinguishes the region’s current science, scientific culture, and scientific journalism. Recent events have given the title a third meaning, as the ongoing social and political changes in the region raise the possibility of a re-invigoration of the region’s great and long scientific traditions and energies.

If things go well, the plenary will frame a conversation about these issues that will go on the rest of the conference and long afterwards. In the meantime, both attendees and those who won’t be joining us can get a view of some of these issues with this reading list. Load it up on instapaper and read it in transit or in situ.

The Arabick Roots of Science, and Their Fruit to Come – My blog post of June 20 on the foundations laid by Arab and Middle East science

Science in Medieval Islam – Rather nicely done Wikipedia primer on some of same roots

Another Revolution Afoot in Egypt: Top-Notch Science by Ahmed H. Zewail, the 1999 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry who will open the conference with a talk right before our plenary.

Arab World “Long Way” From Knowledge Society by Maha Ahmed, Nov 2009. A sobering look at the challenges

What About the Science in the Middle East? A Knight Science Journalism round-up of articles exploring this question in February 2011.

Egyptian Science Community Celebrate a Free Egypt – A February roundup of reactions collected by Nature Middle East’s Mohammed Yahia, who wil be attending WCSJ

Egyptian Interim Government Revamps Research Sector – June 15, 2011, report from Yahia

New Study on Scientific Progress in Middle East – Substantial March 2011 study from Thomson Reuters, with info on investment and infrastructure. Requires a download.

A Free Press Helps Drive Scientific Progress and Innovation – An essay at Sheril Kirshenbaum’s Convergence, by AAAS president Alan Leshner and Mohammed H.A. Hassan, co-chair of IAP Global Network of Science Academies

More Arab Scientists Needed – A report from a panel held Wednesday at the American University in Sharjah.

Darwin and Spencer in the Middle East – Eric M. Johnson’s review of Darwin’s Legacy in the Arab East: Science, Religion, and Politics, by Marwa Elshakry.

Late additions:

  • A New Golden Age? (Download PDF) A Royal Society survey of science in Islamic countries (including some outside the Middle East).
  • Steve Paulson’s Does Islam Stand Against Science?, at the Chronicle of Higher Educaiton, is one of the richer and more nuanced treatments I’ve read of that sticky question. (Some of the comments fall rather short of article’s quality. Don’t feed the trolls!) Thanks to Mo Costandi and Kenan Malik for drawing that one to my attention.
  • Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science, by Hillel Ofek, at The New Atlantis. H/t @kenanmalik
  • Petrodollar Science, by Waleed al-Shobakky, one of the panelists at the plenary.

Have one to add? Please chime in in the comments and/or , I’ll add them as I can.

Image: The library at Alexandria. AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by vasilv_spb

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