1001 Distortions: How (Not) to Narrate History of Science, Medicine, and Technology in Non-Western Cultureshttps://www.academia.edu/43531520/Distortions.Proof02._02_september
The contributors to the exhibition and publication that we focus on in the second part of this book are British engineers, scientists, and physicians, mostly from a Middle Eastern and South Asian background. They established and run the Foundation of Science, Technology and Civilisation, based in Manchester, and created the touring exhibition 1001 Inventions with its companion book. 1001 Inventions claims that the sciences, medicine, and technologies of our contemporary world are anchored in the activities and achievements of medieval Muslim scholars. This is an effective, ingenious, but fundamentally wrong idea. The story told in 1001 Inventions is replete with 1001 errors, due to the amateurish telling. But it is more than mere lack of professional expertise. For many years, academic historians of science in Islamicate societies tried to correct the most outrageous of these errors. Between December 2014 and May 2015, we even managed to establish a cautious and polite cooperation bringing some of the panels of the exhibition closer to the sources of the past and their academic interpretation, without forgetting their different format as popularized historical information. By now, this cooperation has come to a standstill despite our repeated efforts to revive it. The truth-value of their story obviously is not at the forefront of the amateur narrators. We had the same experience with some of the Museum directors in Great Britain and Norway who showed 1001 Inventions or its offspring Sultans of Science, or journalists who repeat without thinking the new glorious but false narrative.