The Manuscript Migration Lab’s graduate affiliates have spent countless hours researching, cataloguing, and investigating numerous manuscripts and papyri in the Rubenstein Library’s collection. It became clear through their work that the journey of even a single rare book charts a course through a sea of historical, technological, and political change. Manuscripts are caught up within cycles of possession and dispossession wrought by imperialism, nation-building, and war. Market systems conceal the ways that precious cultural artifacts are circulated and acquired. Paleographical, philological, and codicological conventions employ vocabulary and classification systems drawn from colonial and neo-colonial global arrangements, reifying Orientalizing assumptions about who owns what, where, and why. As a result of these conclusions, we have created a virtual exhibit that works to resist these cloaking mechanisms by revealing what we have been able to learn about the journeys of the manuscripts held in the Rubenstein collection.
This exhibit has been made possible by the generous support of the Franklin Humanities Institute, the Rubenstein Library and Duke’s Digital Scholarship and Publishing Services, with special thanks to Liz Milewicz and Will Shaw.