Dr. Stephennie Mulder Profile picture
Prof Islamic art @UTAustin, Syria, archaeology & heritage, author of THE CITIZEN KANE OF ISLAM-CENTRIC CAT-THEMED TWITTER THREADS
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May 21, 2022 9 tweets 8 min read
It was so fun meeting this guy again! @SAMAart on Monday at the opening of the exhibition for the 1st c. BC Roman portrait bust found in an Austin Goodwill, brought home for $34.99 by local antiques dealer Laura Young, who promptly nicknamed him Dennis How did a Roman portrait bust from a museum in Germany end up in a Goodwill in Texas? Probably brought back in the kit bag of an American soldier after the museum was bombed in WWII, his family likely donated it after he passed away. We’ll probably never know for certain.
Oct 24, 2021 15 tweets 9 min read
I have seen Timothée of Arabia caress the spice-laden sands while having messianic visions of a blue-eyed Zendaya in a desert perfume commercial and reader, on the whole, it was magnificent. A few thoughts on #DuneMovie 🧵 Herbert's story turns the Star Wars-style hero's journey and the white savior story on its head, subverting readers' expectations of a heroic superman by writing a mid-20th century critique of empire and imperialism, as @use_theforce_em has argued tor.com/2019/03/06/why…
Apr 20, 2021 27 tweets 13 min read
15 years ago I published my first article. It was about the Mausoleum of Imam al-Shafi'i in Cairo, built in 1211 by Sultan al-Kamil, nephew of the great Saladin. Now it is again resplendent thanks to an exquisite restoration by May al-Ibrashy & team. A story for #WorldHeritageDay In 1180, Saladin had vanquished both the Fatimids and the Crusaders, and his first construction in Cairo - even before building the Citadel - was here, at the burial place of the Imam al-Shafi'i, founder of one of the Sunni legal schools and long a beloved figure in the city.
Jan 4, 2021 31 tweets 8 min read
This conversation about @UTAustin athletics raises interesting points. Buckle up, it’s time to talk about the value of the humanities and ask how we got in a situation where it seems logical to argue sports and STEM matter more than history. First, this argument hinges on the idea that that the monetary worth of a thing is its primary form of value, and that in a free-market, democratic society, monetary investments “naturally” reflect the desires of the people.
Oct 11, 2020 4 tweets 2 min read
Congratulations @wendymk for winning Honorable Mention for the Albert Hourani Book Award at #MESA2020! This is only the second time an Islamic art historian has won the prize, and it couldn't go to a more paradigm-shifting book. Read it. "Professor Shaw’s book is a bold and successful attempt to reconceptualize the historiography of Islamic art outside the current Euro-centric and colonial paradigm."
Oct 11, 2020 5 tweets 3 min read
There are so many things wrong with this analysis that I'm not sure where to begin. First, Dune is so patently *not* inspired by the fall of Roman Empire - Herbert calls it The Galactic Padishah Empire for a reason. It's not subtle. Not everything in history is Rome, Tom. The idea that early Muslims would have understood the "fall of Rome" is equally anachronistic. The early Arabs experienced the Roman empire as a continuous & living entity: what we call (equally anachronistically) Byzantium, they called Rome, al-Rūm. hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?is…
Oct 11, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
'Herbert’s future is one where “Islam” is...a part of the future universe at every level. The world of Dune cannot be separated from its language...Even jihad, a complex, foundational principle of Herbert’s universe, is flattened – and Christianised – to crusade.' 'And, of course, writing in the 1950s and 1960s, the jihad of Frank Herbert’s imagination was not the same as ours [but] exhibits...influence of Sufism and its reading of jihad, where, unlike in a crusade, a leader’s spiritual transformation determined the legitimacy of his war.'
Jul 22, 2020 7 tweets 4 min read
Outside Cairo is the City of the Dead, a vast, sprawling necropolis ornamented with thousands of exquisite funerary structures dedicated to Sultans, scholars, and venerable forbears of the Egyptian nation. Now a construction project dooms part of it to destruction. Please sign. And though its domed mausolea are exquisite, the City of the Dead is very much alive. Since the medieval era, its villa-like structures have been inhabited by generations of Cairene residents. Today, over half a million people live in the cemetery. huffpost.com/entry/city-of-…
Jun 29, 2020 11 tweets 3 min read
If you or someone you know are among those who dismiss the threat of #COVID19 because there's a 99.75% recovery rate, listen up.

My mom is fairly sure she had COVID in March. She was never tested (because there was no testing at the time) but she had all the symptoms: Profound exhaustion, a migraine-like headache, crushing chest pain, and a cough. She was sick for six weeks.

Since being sick, my famously unflappable mother, habitual climber of mountains and inveterate world traveler, has suffered with intense, crippling anxiety.
Jun 28, 2020 33 tweets 13 min read
Oops! Looks like someone hasn't read the UNESCO 1970 convention. Manuscripts are in fact explicitly protected, as are *cough* incunabula.

Let's have a thread about provenance, UNESCO, and the priciest Qur'an ever sold: 2 days ago at Christie's for $8M.

portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_… OK enough shade ;-) In this thread I'm going to respond to the points raised by @incunabula one by one. I don't agree with their reading of the legal or ethical boundaries. But I do agree that having a public conversation about this is a good thing.
Jun 23, 2020 18 tweets 7 min read
Unless they want to deal in looted objects, collectors, dealers, and auction houses have to get serious about transparent #provenance. A few facts @Yael_Rice and I have gathered over the past week about the sale in which this stunning, "no-provenance" provenance Qur'an appears. What's "no-provenance" provenance? I coined this neologism last week to refer to any ostensible 'provenance' that doesn't live up to accepted international standards. #noprovenanceprovenance
May 28, 2020 29 tweets 10 min read
My thread yesterday about Islamic responses to antiquity provoked lots of great conversation, so I thought I'd do a follow-up thread to clarify a few points. I'm grateful for people who ask interesting questions that make me think more deeply! The majority of comments responded to an admittedly provocative statement: "there is no precedent in Islamic history for their (ISIS') actions". I stand by that, but it deserves some explanation. I could have been a bit clearer in my wording. TWITTER SCHOLARSHIP IS HARD Y'ALL
Apr 13, 2020 9 tweets 4 min read
"The hospital shall keep all patients, men and women, until they are completely recovered. All costs are to be borne by the hospital whether the people come from afar or near, whether they are residents or foreigners, strong or weak, low or high, rich or poor... ...employed or unemployed, blind or sighted, physically or mentally ill, learned or illiterate. There are no conditions of consideration and payment; none is objected to or even indirectly hinted at for non-payment...
Mar 24, 2020 11 tweets 6 min read
Debates around how to respond to the plague in early Islamic Syria mirror those of today. The great scholar and historian al-Ṭabarī (d. 928) wrote of the Plague of Emmaus (Arabic: عمواس, ʻAmwās), which struck Syria in 639 during the Islamic conquest, killing 25,000. #coronavirus The historian Ibn 'Asākir was so moved by descriptions of the suffering of the people of 'Amwās that he added a poem of lamentation and martyrdom to his great history of Damascus.
Oct 29, 2019 21 tweets 12 min read
Cats hold a revered place within Islam. A popular tale about the Prophet Muhammed (often wrongly attributed to the hadith) says that the Prophet cut his cloak rather than making a sleeping cat move. Detail of the Blacas Ewer #Mosul, Iraq, 1232 @britishmuseum #NationalCatDay But there are also hadith that show the Prophet Muhammad esteemed cats, and that he mandated they be well-treated. One recounts that the Prophet promised hellfire to a woman who was accused of torturing a cat. Incense Burner, Iran, 12th c. @metmuseum
Jul 20, 2019 6 tweets 3 min read
The tension between the intensity of U.S. engagement with the Middle East militarily, economically, and politically and the average American's profound ignorance about the region's history and culture is neatly summed up in the architectural absurdity that is @disneyaladdin I realize this may be difficult to even recognize. So here: imagine a film set in medieval Europe that had buildings that were a combination of Greek temples, Viking longhouses, Gothic cathedrals, and Swiss chalets. That's the level of architectural crazy going on in Aladdin.
May 16, 2019 22 tweets 13 min read
"(Martin's) sources were steeped in outdated misogynist & colonialist perspectives, it is vital to amplify the voices of those who have a better understanding of the real history being exaggerated in #GoT." publicmedievalist.com/thrones-outdat… Amplify @TheMedievalDrK on why #GoT is even whiter than you think: vice.com/en_us/article/…
Mar 27, 2019 11 tweets 4 min read
Over the past three days I have been deluged with hateful messages from white nationalists for a post about osteoarchaeological research that confirms Roman Britain included people of black African and Middle Eastern descent. This is welcome news. motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/… One common refrain was that in presenting scientifically verifiable evidence of the diverse past of Roman Britain, I was being "political", and that my status as an unbiased researcher was questionable.
Dec 13, 2018 29 tweets 14 min read
This semester in my Arts of Islam survey, I decided to scrap the research paper and have students collaborate to re-write @Wikipedia articles. It ended up better than I could have imagined & transformed how I think about teaching #StudentsOfIslamicArt #IslamicArt #MedievalTwitter I was hesitant about shaking up a popular class that had worked well for years, but one statistic finally convinced me: 90% of Wikipedia articles are written by men - and largely by men from Euro-American contexts. theguardian.com/education/2018…
Oct 16, 2017 61 tweets 22 min read
Dear Entire World: #Viking ‘Allah’ textile actually doesn't have Allah on it. Vikings had rich contacts w/Arab world. This textile? No. 1/60 Actually #Viking textile has no Arabic at all but story has gone viral @NYTimes @Guardian @BBCWorld @NatGeo @ScienceAlert have reported 2/60