What We Are Reading Today: Being Muslim the Bosnian Way by Tone Bringa

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Updated 08 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Being Muslim the Bosnian Way by Tone Bringa

“I have been able to follow a Bosnian community over a period of 6 years, during which it has undergone dramatic changes. In the late 1980s people were working hard against economic crisis. In 1990 they were full of optimism for the future. In January 1993 the village was in fear, surrounded by war on all sides. In April 1993 it was attacked by Croat forces. In October 1993 none of the Muslims in the village remained. They had either fled, been placed in detention camps, or been killed.”

Thus begins Tone Bringa’s moving ethnographic account of Bosnian Muslims’ lives in a rural village located near Sarajevo. Although they represent a majority of the population in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnian Muslims are still members of a minority culture in the region that was once Yugoslavia. The question of ethno-national identity has become paramount in this society, and the author focuses on religion as the defining characteristic of identity. Bringa pays particular attention to the roles that women play in defining Muslim identities, and she examines the importance of the household as a Muslim identity sphere. In so doing, she illuminates larger issues of what constitutes “nationality.”

This is a gripping and heartfelt account of a community that has been torn apart by ethno-political conflict. It will attract readers of all backgrounds who want to learn more about one of the most intractable wars of the late 20th century and the people who have been so tragically affected.


What We Are Reading Today: The Riddle of the Rosetta

Updated 18 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Riddle of the Rosetta

Authors: Jed Z. Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz

 

In 1799, a French Army officer was rebuilding the defenses of a fort on the banks of the Nile when he discovered an ancient stele fragment bearing a decree inscribed in three different scripts. So begins one of the most familiar tales in Egyptology — that of the Rosetta Stone and the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

This book draws on fresh archival evidence to provide a major new account of how the English polymath Thomas Young and the French philologist Jean-François Champollion vied to be the first to solve the riddle of the Rosetta.

Jed Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz bring to life a bygone age of intellectual adventure. Much more than a decoding exercise centered on a single artifact, the race to decipher the Rosetta Stone reflected broader disputes about language, historical evidence, biblical truth, and the value of classical learning. Buchwald and Josefowicz paint compelling portraits of Young and Champollion, two gifted intellects with altogether different motivations. Young disdained Egyptian culture and saw Egyptian writing as a means to greater knowledge about Greco-Roman antiquity. Champollion, swept up in the political chaos of Restoration France and fiercely opposed to the scholars aligned with throne and altar, admired ancient Egypt and was prepared to upend conventional wisdom to solve the mystery of the hieroglyphs.

Taking readers from the hushed lecture rooms of the Institut de France to the windswept monuments of the Valley of the Kings, The Riddle of the Rosetta reveals the untold story behind one of the nineteenth century’s most thrilling discoveries.