Hidden Stories: Global History, Local Networks

Virtual Symposium

Hidden Stories: Global History, Local Networks

Date: February 24–25, 2022
Price: Free online symposium on Zoom. Click here to register.

Join the Aga Khan Museum on February 24 and 25 for an online symposium celebrating the exhibition Hidden Stories: Books Along the Silk Roads, which features books, scrolls, manuscript paintings, textiles, and objects spanning a 1,000-year history. The exhibition is both global — examining a vast network of trade routes spanning Asia, Europe, and Africa — and local, bringing together historical artifacts from collections across Ontario, Canada.

About the Hidden Stories symposium


Marking the closing of the Hidden Stories exhibition, the two-day virtual symposium showcases the ground-breaking collaborative research behind this historic exhibition. The event brings together an international group of researchers, museum, and library professionals in four roundtable sessions. Each session explores a Silk Roads cultural tradition and related Hidden Stories objects through presentations by panelists and an open discussion period with the virtual audience.


Hidden Stories: Global History, Local Networks, hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), will be held on Zoom and is free to attend. Registration is required. Click here to register.




Thursday, February 24

10–10:40am ET: Welcome and Opening Keynote
Welcome and introduction by Hidden Stories co-curator Filiz Çakır Phillip, followed by co-curator Suzanne Conklin Akbari’s talk on “The Local in the Global” exploring the significance of the exhibition to the study of the global Middle Ages and related fields


10:45am–12:45pm ET: Roundtable 1 – Judaica
Focus Objects: Ketubah (Royal Ontario Museum), Toledo Bible (Fisher Library), Genesis leaf, China (Royal Ontario Museum)
Panelists: Eva Frojmovic (University of Leeds), Sara Irwin (Royal Ontario Museum), Dorion Liebgott (Beth Tzedec Congregation Museum, Toronto), Noam Sienna (University of St. Thomas)
Moderator: Adam Harris Levine (Art Gallery of Ontario)


12:45–1:30pm ET: Break


1:30–3:30pm ET – Roundtable 2 – South and Southeast Asia
Focus Objects: Nepalese pothi (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library)Kamawa-sa (Royal Ontario Museum)
Panelists: Jinah Kim (Harvard University), Alexander O’Neill (University of Toronto), Sarah Richardson (University of Toronto), Trent Walker (Ho Center for Buddhist Studies, Stanford University)
Moderator: Luther Obrock (University of Toronto)


Friday, February 25


10am–12pm ET: Roundtable 3 – Ethiopia
Focus Objects: Ethiopian amulet scroll and Harari Qur’an (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library)
Panelists: Eyob Derillo (British Library), Sana Mirza (Smithsonian Institution), Andrea Myers Achi (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Timothy Perry (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto)
Moderator: Melissa Moreton (Institute for Advanced Study)


12–12:45pm ET: Break
Video performance by musician Afraaz Mulji, inspired by a Hidden Stories manuscript from 16th-century Spain and featuring a monastic chant song. In conversation with and hosted by Amirali Alibhai (Head of Performing Arts, Aga Khan Museum), and Filiz Çakır Phillip (Hidden Stories exhibition co-curator, Aga Khan Museum).


12:45-2:45pm ET: Roundtable 4 – The Americas
Focus Object: Baptismal register from Mexico City (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library)
Panelists: David Fernández (Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto), Analú María López (Newberry Library), Dominique Polanco (Virginia Tech)
Moderator: Suzanne Conklin Akbari (Institute for Advanced Study)


2:45–3:15pm ET: Closing Comments
Concluding talk by Alexandra Gillespie (Principal, University of Toronto Mississauga; Vice-President, University of Toronto and Professor of English and Medieval Studies)


The Hidden Stories symposium is organized by co-curators Filiz Çakır Phillip (Aga Khan Museum) and Suzanne Conklin Akbari (Institute for Advanced Study) and supported in partnership with the Book and the Silk Roads Project, the Institute of Islamic Studies, and The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto.


Hidden Stories: Books Along the Silk Roads

Open until February 27, 2022


Get connected. Stay engaged. Sign up for the latest updates from the Aga Khan Museum