“The Euphrates to the Thames: Preserving intellectual discourse from Arab and Islamic diaspora in late 20th century London, selected recordings from the Mohamed Makiya Archive at MIT Libraries.”

Material Description

Dr. Mohamed Makiya (, University of Baghdad School of Architecture co-founder and London-based Kufa Gallery founder, donated 90 feet of audiocassette tape recordings to the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT Libraries (AKDC@MIT) in his estate. These recordings document the intellectual vibrancy of Arab cultures in the late 20th century represented in lectures, symposia, concerts, and conversations conducted primarily at London’s Kufa Gallery by both Arab and British scholars of Middle Eastern humanities, art, and architecture. (See for a catalog of Kufa Gallery events.) Makiya founded the Kufa Gallery in 1986 as a diwaniya for Arab culture, a place for social and cultural gatherings. Makiya kept the recordings in his London apartment until his donation to AKDC. The AKDC has the documentation (attached) to demonstrate full ownership of the tapes. The recordings include lute concerts, poetry readings, and lectures on such topics as: the history of Jewish Iraqis; Sumarian civilization; Babylonian philosophy; Sufi artistic traditions; the pre-Islamic era of Iraq; and understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many other social scientists, architects, historians, and artists whose scholarly narratives were interrupted by regional conflict or oppressive political regimes, are included in the collection. Makiya and his peers had a strong desire to expose the general public to a humanistic view of the Islamic Arab world, its history, and culture. Many monuments and scholarly documents created by Arab people have been destroyed over the course of the last century. These recordings offer one means to preserve an endangered cultural heritage. Makiya’s intention in leaving the recordings, as well as his papers and architectural drawings to the AKDC, was to ensure that they would always be accessible to the people of Iraq and other Arab countries. In many cases, the recordings can be linked to other appropriate documents housed on Archnet.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries


Dr. Sharon Smith
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


    60 recorded hours