Shireen Hamza

Shireen Hamza

Shireen Hamza Photo

Research Interests: History of medicine; Indian Ocean history; Medieval history; history of gender and sexuality; science and empire; pedagogy.

Shireen Hamza’s dissertation project is a reassessment of the concept of “Islamic medicine” by studying this scholarly medical tradition, ṭibb, across the Indian Ocean World. Working on texts of both Galenic and Ayurvedic medicine composed in Arabic and Persian between the 13th and 15th centuries, she shows the coexistence of and exchange between multiple traditions of healing. Focusing on medicine at medieval courts, madrasas and port cities in Yemen and Gujarat, she traces the circulation and transformation of disease categories and medicinal substances. Her work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council and the Fulbright Commission.

As part of her secondary field in Critical Media Practice, she explores questions of gender and historical memory with contemporary practitioners of Unani medicine in India. She is a managing editor for the Ottoman History Podcast, and wrote and produced Ventricles, a podcast on science outside the West.


“The Medieval Hammam as a Space of Desire, Healing and Ritual,” Medieval Academy of America (March 8th, 2019)

“Stretching the Body: Preparing to Travel in the Indian Ocean World” Middle East Studies Association (November 18th, 2018)

Guest lectures:

Guest lecture on “Talismanic Healing in Two Yemeni Manuscripts and the Question of Authorship” for Professor Olly Akkerman’s “Manuscript to Macbook” course at the Freie Universität, Berlin (February 2020)

Lecture on “Global Medicine” for “The Enlightenment as Global Phenomenon,” Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Summer Institute for Educators, Georgetown University (August 2019)

Two lectures on historiography and Islamic intellectual history in West Africa for the Muslim community at Massachusetts Correctional Industries — Norfolk ( January 2019)

Forthcoming publications:

“A Hakim’s Tale,” Asian Medicine: Journal of IASTAM (forthcoming in themed issue on “Time, Continuity, and Rupture: Medicine and Memory in South Asia”)

Chūb Chīnī: Textual Roots of Novel Materia Medica in Tibb,” forthcoming with Natural Things / Ad Fontes Naturae

Previous Degrees:
BA., English, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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