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What a (Modern) Monk Does: Digitally Preserving Endangered Manuscripts in Threatened Communities

By Columba Stewart Published 2017

What a (Modern) Monk Does: ..Threatened Communities - Columba Stewart

In this video, Columba Stewart, George William Cottrell, Jr. Member (2016–17) in the School of Historical Studies, a Benedictine monk, and Executive Director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, explains how a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota became involved in a massive effort to document the manuscript heritage of historic Christian and Muslim communities in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, India, and Africa.

Stewart, with his team from the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, has traveled across the Middle East to rescue artifacts, which have been under threat for centuries, with the aim of digitizing the materials for scholarship and to encourage a deeper understanding between different religious groups. “If we don’t find deeper affinities, we will always be stuck on our superficial differences," says Stewart in a profile in The Atlantic, “The Monk Who Saves Manuscripts from ISIS,” February 23, 2017, http://theatln.tc/2lMGI3u. "We will remain afraid and suspicious of each other. Relations were not always easy in the past, but if we learn from places where they lived together, we might learn how to live together.”