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Michael Mumisa

Michael Mumisa

PhD candidate, Middle Eastern Studies

Subject groups/Research projects

Arabic & Persian Studies:

Research Interests

Current Research

My research is an investigation into the discursive construction of the Jahiliyya in classical Arabic literature. It is inspired by previous studies on Jāhilī poetry and on Abbasid intellectual history by James Montgomery (my supervisor) and others. My own contribution to this exciting field is that I treat Abbasid notions of the Jāhiliyya as an important aspect of ninth century Abbasid memory culture in which the representation of the Jahili past becomes a palingenetic process where that past is reconstructed in order to address the needs of the Abbasid present. Abbasid texts on the Jahiliyya position themselves at the intersection between memory, identity, and cultural continuity. They constitute an important “construction site of memory” about the Jahili past. Jahili poetry, Abbasid poetry, prose and prosimetra are the representational systems by which the early Abbasids reconstructed and reimagined the Jahiliyya. Thus, my study combines intellectual history, literary criticism and philology in a close analysis of poetry, prose, and prosimetra (Al-Jahiz et al) in order to investigate the notions of the Jahiliyya the early Abbasids were constructing, why they were doing it, and how or by which means they were doing it.  


Processes of monumentalisation and the poetics and politics of memory; literary and intellectual history; philology, language and linguistics; literary theory and literary criticism; classical Arabic rhetoric and grammar; codicology and the African Arabic manuscript tradition. Michael Mumisa is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4 programmes. He also provides advice on scripts and storylines to BBC Drama and other TV networks.