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Kristina Richardson (University of Virginia): 'Book History from the Margins: What Gutenberg Owed to Medieval Romani Printers'

In this talk I will show that Roma and other traveling groups, who were known collectively in the Middle East as Strangers, had been blockprinting religious texts since the 900s. They printed in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac scripts. As some Romani groups migrated from Ottoman territories into Bavaria and Bohemia in the 1410s,they may have carried this printing technology into the Holy Roman Empire.

Kristina Richardson is Professor of History and Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia. She specializes in histories of non-elite groups in the Middle East. She is the author of two monographs: Difference and Disability in the Medieval Islamic World (2012) and Roma in the Medieval Islamic World: Literacy, Culture, and Migration (2022). This last one was awarded the Dan David Prize, the Monica H. Green Prize for Distinguished Medieval Research from the Medieval Academy of America, and Honorable Mention for the Middle East Medievalists Book Prize. She also co-edited the Notebook of Kamāl al-Dīn the Weaver in 2021. She is currently writing a book on free and unfree South Asian and East African agricultural laborers in early Islamic Iraq. 

This event is part of the Warburg Director's Seminar series, which brings leading scholars and writers to the Institute to share new work and fresh perspectives on key issues in their fields.


image: cover detail, Roma in the Medieval Islamic World: Literacy, Culture, and Migration (I.B. Tauris, 2022)