An Arab view on the history of Darwinism

Eric Michael Johnson gives an account of the history of science work of Mirwa Elshakry: Darwin and Spencer in the Middle East.” Elshakry’s thesis explored how views of Darwin and Darwinism changed in the Arab world during the pre-WWI years.

Discussions of Darwin in al-muqtataf [a journal] focused exclusively on either his science of natural selection or its implications for morality and religion. However, once al-muqtataf moved to British-occupied Egypt the magazine took a different approach as the editors frequently encountered the functionaries of Western imperialism.

I wrote about Elshakry’s work last year (“Darwin in the East”). I think it’s worth encountering and understanding.

It seems to me that her work is a glimpse of the forces entangling Darwinian biology with social upheaval in the late 19th century – but it hints at an avenue of understanding the spread of biological science itself, not only in conjunction with the social impacts. I’d like to read more historical interpretation of the people actually trying to understand biology in non-Western contexts at that time.