Tag Archives: bibliography

Libyan Bibliographies

[Note — Post will be updated as I digitize or acquire sources] Bibliographies do not just provide a useful list of references about something, but are a way of assessing the state of research on a subject, and, perhaps more importantly, defining a subject—what it includes, excludes, and what counts as relevant.

The first bibliographies on “Libya” appeared over one hundred years ago and were an important part of the colonial attempt to define and produce knowledge about colonized lands. In fact, it was an Italian colonial bibliographer, Federico Minutilli, who was responsible for resurrecting the ancient Roman designation Libia as a cover term for the three provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and the Fezzan that the Italian colonial project eventually brought under its control. Since then, bibliographies about Libya have been published about every decade, containing updated references to scholarship, journalism, and general literature about the country. (It’s worth noting that studies on Libya compared to its neighbors are still few enough that compiling an all-encompassing bibliography is a relatively feasible project…). Here is a list of the ones I’ve managed to locate so far, with brief comments.

§1. Lambert Playfair, Bibliography of the Barbary States: Part I: Tripoli and the Cyrenaica (London, 1889).
—The first such bibliography to appear, this work contributes to the European race to colonize the lands that later became Libya. Listed 579 books and articles in chronological order from Herodotus (!) to 1889, with an appendix describing 62 manuscripts obtained by the British Consulate in Tripoli.

Map of the “Barbary Coast” accompanying Playfair’s 1889 book

§2. Federico Minutilli, Bibliografia della Libia (Turin, 1903).
—The first work to bring back the old Roman geographical designation Libia, it listed 1,269 titles and purported to contain all published references to Libya from the invention of the printing press until 1902.

§3. Ugo Ceccherini, Bibliografia della Libia (Rome, 1915).
—A continuation of Minutilli’s work containing 3,041 titles on Libya published between 1903 and 1914; the incredible uptake being due to Italy’s drive to colonize Libya.

§4. R.W. Hill, Bibliography of Libya (Durham, 1959).
—Conceived of as “a major project of research involving economic and social problems”, simultaneous to the discovery of oil in Libya, and part of a small publication series on Libya produced by the Durham Geography department.

§5. Mohamed Murabet, A Bibliography of Libya: with particular reference to sources available in libraries and public archives in Tripoli (Valetta, 1959).
—Contains mostly colonial works on a variety of topics (681 total entries), but with a useful section detailing about 100 unpublished manuscripts and documents located in the archives of the Antiquities Department in Tripoli.

§6. Hans Schlüter, Index Libycus: Bibliography of Libya, 1957–1969, with supplementary material 1915–1956 (Boston, 1972).
—Contains 4,418 entries covering the years since 1915 but without duplicating references gathered by Hill 1959, emphasizing publications since 1957.

§7. Hans Schlüter, Index Libycus: Bibliography of Libya, 1970–1975. Vol. I: Titles (Boston, 1975).
—Lists 4,380 entries focusing on the years since 1970 but including references before that which were omitted in the previous volume or in Hill 1959. Note that it is actually the second volume of the Index. See also his article (“Non-Arabic regional bibliographies pertaining to the Libyan Arab Republic,” International Library Review 8/2 (1976), pp. 201–215) overviewing various smaller topical bibliographies.

§8. Salvatore Bono, Storiografia e fonti occidentali sulla Libia (1510-1911) (Rome, Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Tripoli, 1982).
—More of a guide to the scholarship on, and archives of, Libyan history, than a simple bibliography, this book is an essential reference for any historian of Libya.

§9. Muhammad Alawar, A Concise bibliography of northern Chad and Fezzan in southern Libya (Cambridgeshire, 1983).
—In the introduction to this volume, Alawar reflects on his organizing principles, stating that “among the legacies of Western European colonial occupation in Africa is a pattern of international frontiers that reflects imperial strategies and aspirations. The borders imposed in the African continent have often had only slight reference either to local perceptions and definitions of spatial authority or to indigenous economic realities”. This work lists 2991 titles over a broad range of themes.

§10. Natasha Beschorner, Bibliography of Libya 1970–1990 (London, 1990).
—Compiled as part of a SOAS research project on Libya in the 1990s led by J.A. Allan and K.S. McLachlan, who both produced other research on Libya. A total of 528 entires, mostly politics and economics, including a number of newspaper and magazine articles in various languages.



§11. Nicola Labanca & Pierluigi Venuta, Bibliografia della Libia coloniale (1911-1920) (Florence, 2004).
—This book contains not only Western research on colonial Libya, but also works in Arabic and/or published in Libya. (The publisher’s blurb, linked above, is a little cringeworthy, though)



§12. Adam Benkato & Christophe Pereira, “An annotated bibliography of Arabic and Berber in Libya,” Libyan Studies 47 (2016), pp. 149–165.
—A comprehensive (up to mid-2016) bibliography of studies about the Arabic and Berber (Amazigh) languages in Libya, organized by region. I continue to update this bibliography in a publicy-available Google Doc, now updated to end of 2019. See also this post on dissertations on Libyan languages and this one on “non-site” research on Libyan Amazigh varieties.

 

The Sanusi Letters: a checklist | قائمة رسائل السنوسية

From “The Sanusi Letters: A checklist”, by Knut S. Vikør. Available freely online.

“The obvious importance of the Sanūsī order has made it one of the better studied movements of nineteenth-century Islam. Traditionally, however, the movement has been known mostly from external sources, in particular French colonial observers, and from overviews such as those of E.E. Evans-Pritchard and Nicola Ziadeh. There exists, however, a rich body of material from inside the order. They include the scholarly works of its masters, but also non-literary material such as letters of various types. In recent years, more and more of these have been published in various works on the Sanusiyya. They are, however, spread throughout many publications and it may be hard to obtain an overview of them. The present list is a survey of known letters to and from the Sanūsī order.”

Book: A Bibliography of Libyan Sociologists

As a research aid, the Libyan sociologist Mustafa al-Tir (مصتفى عمر التير) published a bilingual English-Arabic bio-bibliography of sociologists and anthropologists in Libya in the early 1980s. In it, he writes:

“Producing bibliographies and indexes, whether general or specialised, is an important concern of those organising or propagating knowledge in society…Bibliographies and indexes are, of course, essential for the development of scientific research…

I have noticed on more than one occasion that many Libyan planners and scholars ignore sociological studies which have been carried out in their own society…and that some planners seek the help of specialised experts in social sciences from abroad while native experts, no less competent and probably much more so, because of their knowledge of the language, values and systems of this society, are available…The wrong lies in their complete negligence of the works of their native colleagues.

I believe that the negligence on the part of many students, planners and specialists of the works of Libyan researchers in social sciences is due, partly at least, to their failure to recognise the availability of local experience and their ignorance of the works of Libyan researchers.”

Attir, Mustafa O. 1980(?). The Libyan Sociologists, anthropologists and social works and their scientific research. Arab Development Institute: Tripoli.

 مصتفى عمر التير. 1980. المتخصصون الليبيون في علوم الاجتماع و الانسان و الخدمة الاجتماعية و نشاطهم العلمي. معهد الانماء العربي: طرابلس

A PDF of the work can be found here.