Yusuf Umrethwala

Graduate Research Assistant, Princeton Geniza Project

Yusuf Umrethwala is an MA candidate in the dual degree program in Islamic Studies and Muslim Cultures at Columbia University and Aga Khan University (London). He pursued his undergraduate and graduate studies at Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah in Surat, India, with a major in Arabic literature (ʾAdab), and went on to lecture and research at the same university.

His past research interests include the expression of emotional intensity and visceral imagery by the use of lingual derivations in the poems of Ṭayyībī-Ismaʿīlī Laureates of Yemen in the 13th century. In a more recent project, his research focused on the study of the trans-national socio-religious migratory history of his community, the Dawoodi Bohras starting from the early 19th century to the present day, his findings on which were recently self-published in a book entitled Travel and You Shall Prosper: The History of Migrations of the Dawoodi Bohras. This book covers the migratory history of the Dawoodi Bohras to over 40 countries from India across 9 geographical regions with a detailed account of the early migrants and community developments. Since nothing of this kind was previously documented, his work mostly relied on oral histories and ethnographic research, and is also complemented with a rich collection of old images and archives, each of which tells and complements the vivid history of migrations. He hopes to deepen his research and use his Master's experience to enrich this work. He has also studied and written on the iconography of an old wooden artifact belonging to the Western Fatimid Palace in Cairo.

With his past research experiences in the history and literature of the Fatimid dynasty, he was always amazed by the significance of geniza documents in complementing the existing scholarship from a bottom-up approach and providing an evidentiary basis for the social history of the period. He is currently interested in using the geniza documents as a tool to reconstruct the hitherto undocumented or misunderstood events, personalities and periods in the Fatimid history. At the Princeton Geniza Lab, his work primarily focuses on Arabic script documents coupled with his limited and growing Judaeo-Arabic experience. He is currently working on updating the DIMME database.

To know more about his research and work at the Geniza Lab, contact him on [email protected].