Monday, January 12, 2009

Call for Papers: Sixth Annual Duke/UNC Islamic Studies Conference

For any interested Islamicists out there:

6th Annual Duke-UNC-CH Graduate Islamic Studies Conference

The Departments of Religion at Duke University and the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are now
accepting papers for inclusion in their Sixth Annual
Graduate Islamic Studies Conference.

Negotiating Multiple Islams: Societies, Traditions, and
Cultures in Context

April 4-5 2009

Global Education Center, University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mohsen Kadivar, Visiting Professor,
University of Virginia

Dr. Mohsen Kadivar studied in the Qom Seminaries in Iran
and obtained his ijtihad certificate in religious knowledge
from Ayatollah Montazeri in 1996. In 1998 he completed his
PhD in Western and Islamic Philosophy, with a focus on
Transcendental Philosophy, from Tarbiyat Modarres
University. He has penned 11 books and over 50 articles in
philosophy, Islamic theology, Shi'i political and
jurisprudential thought, and Islamic law. Among his best
known books are Theories of Government in Shi'i Fiqh and
Government by Guardianship (hokumat-e vela'i)


Dr. Anna Bigelow, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and
Religion, North Carolina State University (tentative)

Dr. Carl Ernst, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Religious
Studies, UNC

Dr. Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Islamic Studies, Duke

Dr. Omid Safi, Professor of Religious Studies, UNC

Negotiating Multiple Islams:

The study of Islam today has moved well beyond early
Orientalist assumptions of seeing it as a monolithic
religious entity. Static and reductionist categories have
been replaced in order to account for the dynamic and
"lived" aspects of Islam, bringing into focus its multiple
interpretations and manifestations that transcend cultural
boundaries. "Lived Islam" includes the variety of ways that
Muslims express their devotion to Islam in both
intellectual and "popular" traditions, through text and
performance. It also brings into view the different ways
that Muslims approach their religious texts, and the
interpretive moves they make between theory and praxis.

The theme of our conference, "Negotiating Multiple Islams,"
is aimed specifically at generating discussion on how
scholars that speak of Islam in its different contexts and
its lived aspects respond to the issues that accompany such
an approach. Some of the questions we seek to address are:
How are competing forces of heterogeneity and homogeneity
reconciled in the context of a global Islam? And
methodologically, what impact does an emphasis on lived
aspects of Islam have on the interpretation of historical
sources? Also, which voices are included and/or excluded
through these approaches? How can scholars of Islam and
Muslim societies reconcile the commonly-presented vision of
Islam as stagnant and rigid with the many vibrant
adaptations of Islam being practiced? How does the
acknowledgment of the diversity of expressions address
questions of normativity and authority? Does the notion of
"multiple Islams" subvert Muslim self-representations of
Islam as transcendent, crossing time and place?

For this year's conference, we encourage papers that
explore these questions and seek to contextualize the
societies, cultures, and traditions in which they occur. We
welcome topics that cover a wide range of issues and
incorporate a variety of methodologies and approaches ?
textual, anthropological, sociological, critical
theoretical, and historical, among others. In addition to
formal papers, we also welcome multimedia presentations,
such as student-produced films, that are related to the
theme of the conference.

Possible themes for paper topics include (but are not
limited to):

* lived Islam in urban and rural environments

* critical responses to tradition and authority

* revival and reform movements and the notion of
multiple modernities

* popular and vernacular Islam in current and
historical contexts

* construction of competing identities

* Islamic art and architecture

* pluralistic ethics and Islam

* living and engaging sacred texts

* multiple interpretive authorities and local traditions

* Muslim women as scholars and leaders

* between Islamic law (Shari'ah) and jurisprudence
(fiqh) in local and transnational contexts

As a hallmark of the Duke-UNC Islamic Studies Conference we
will provide opportunity for interactive, deliberative, and
inter-disciplinary engagement with scholarly work in
progress by setting this gathering in an intimate workshop
format. We expect that those invited to present papers will
remain for the duration of the conference in order to
engage the other participants in a true exchange of ideas.
Lunch and refreshments will be provided on both days and a
formal dinner will be held on Saturday night.

Limited financial assistance to cover travel expenses may
be available to those who demonstrate financial need and
are not receiving funding from their home institutions.

To apply, please send the following to

* paper title

* proposal of no more than 500 words

* CV

* brief biographical sketch

The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2009.


Department of Religious Studies UNC-Chapel Hill

Rose Aslan

Tehseen Thaver

Department of Sociology, UNC-Chapel Hill

Aseem Hasnain

Department of Religion, Duke University

Susan Langford

Dan Holodnik

Erik Norell

Nate Schick

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Study of Religion in Five Acts: A Proposal

One of the principal requirements for last semester's methodology seminar was the formulation and construction of a syllabus for an undergraduate theory course of our own. It was a surprisingly rigorous assignment (I have a greatly increased respect for all you professors out there!), but ultimately I was pretty pleased with my efforts. Check out my prospective syllabus here:

REL 350: The Study of Religion in Five Acts