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Peter Pormann


Personal profile


After studying Classics, French, and Islamic Studies in Paris (Sorbonne), Hamburg, and Tübingen, I took an MA in Islamic Studies at the University of Leiden, and an M.Phil. and D.Phil in Classics at the University of Oxford (Corpus Christi College). As an undergraduate, my prime motivation in choosing Classics was to understand ‘our’ Western culture, for surely its two main roots were Graeco-Roman Antiquity and the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Little did I know that a third ‘root’, Islamic culture, is intrinsically linked to our own tradition, a fact conveniently forgotten by ideologues of different persuasions. My teaching and research therefore tries to rectify this misconception by investigating the many contacts between Muslims, Jews, and Christians writing in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic, be it in the tenth or the twentieth century.

Professor Peter E Pormann

Research interests

Peter E Pormann is primarily concerned with the transmission of the Greek medical and scientific heritage into the Islamic world and the use of information technologies to facilitate its study. He has published on medicine and philosophy in late antique Alexandria, Greek-Syriac-Arabic translation technique, the history of mental illness, hospital provisions in tenth-century Baghdad, Arabic philosophy, and the reception of Graeco-Roman thought in the modern Middle East.
At Manchester, he is currently pursuing three major research projects:

  1. Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms  (ERC, €1.5m).
  2. The Syriac Galen Palimpsest: Galen's On Simple Drugs and the Recovery of Lost Texts through Sophisticated Imaging Techniques (with Drs Bill Sellers and Siam Bhayro; AHRC, £1m)
  3. Genealogies of Knowledge: The Evolution and Contestation of Concepts across Time and Space (with Professors Mona Baker, PI, and Luis Pérez=González; AHRC, £1m)

Other projects include the edition, translation, and study of the Medical Compendium by al-Kaskarī (fl. ca. 920s); the edition of the Arabic version of Galen’s On the Affected Parts together with colleagues at Cairo University; and the preparation of a monograph Arab Athena: Classical Receptions in the Modern Middle East.
He also has an interest in Hebrew studies and Jewish life in England during the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance; his catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts of Corpus Christi College, Oxford has recently been published by Boydell & Brewer.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures
  • Creative Manchester


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