2013-2014 Events

Workshop Coordinator: Timothy Gutmann


Autumn 2013

Alex Orwin, “Beauty, Diversity, and Transience: Revisiting Democracy in Alfarabi and Averroes,” with a response by Nora Jacobsen Ben Hammed

Thursday, October 31, 2013 – 4:30pm

Both Alfarabi and Averroes left substantial discussions of democracy, which ought to be of particular interest in view of the push for democracy taking place in several Islamic societies today. While the influential interpretation of these passages by Mahdi and Najjar does not present these philosophers as strong supporters of modern democracy, this interpretation has recently been challenged by Khalidi, inducing us to revisit these discussions.

Prof. Ahmed El Shamsy, “Teaching Religious Law in an Age of Sensation”

November 14, 2013 – 4:30pm

As controversies over implementing, discussing, and considering Islamic law multiply and increase in volume, we invite you to join Prof. El Shamsy and us for a discussion of what this means for pedagogy of religious studies.  How should teachers prepare courses to college students, graduates, and professionals in these contexts?  How should we anticipate the classroom dynamic of different access to different kinds of knowledge?  Do the liberal media and the secular university work in ways that keep these questions coming up?  Join us for an interview and pedagogy discussion at this special workshop meeting.

Movie screening of Amar, Akbar, Anthony

Monday, December 2 – 5pm (Sponsored by Majlis, the DSA Islamic Studies Club) 

Amar Akbar Anthony is a 1977 Bollywood classic.  The storyline centers on three brothers, separated in childhood, who grew up in three different homes and adopted three different religions: Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity. They meet in their youth to fight a common villain.   The film was directed by Manmohan Desai and stars Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, and Rishi Kapoor.  Prof. William Elison calls this film “a landmark of Hindi popular cinema and a mine of historically resonant tropes of urban, national, and religious identity.”

Prof. William Elison (Dartmouth College), “The Man behind the Curtain: Indian Islam According to Amar Akbar Anthony

Tuesday, December 3 – 4pm

Prof. William Elison is a historian of religions and an ethnographer. He specializes in urban India and modern Indian public culture, and his work centers on an ongoing program of fieldwork research in the streets, slums, and movie studios of Mumbai.   He is currently collaborating with Andy Rotman of Smith College and Christian Novetzke of the University of Washington on a book about one of the great Bombay movies, Amar Akbar Anthony (1977). “Amar Akbar Anthony”: Secularism and Spectacle in a Bollywood Classic will be published in 2014 by Harvard University Press.


Winter 2014

Mohamad Ballan, “They Shall Come to You from the West with God’s Religion: Ibāḍī Doctrine and Berber Identity in Ibn Sallām’s Kitāb”

Thursday, January 23. 2014 – 4:00pm

Rodrigo Adem, “The Ḥanbalī Reception of Kalām from the 4th/10th to the 6th/12th Century AH/CE,” with a response by Jawad Qureshi

Thursday, February 6, 2014 – 4:00pm

Screening of “The Square” <الميدان>, with discussion to follow

Thursday February 13 2014 – 4:30pm
Co-sponsored by the Middle East History and Theory Workshop and the Contemporary Middle East Group

Ayse Polat, presenting on print media and administration of religion in the late Ottoman empire

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 – 4:00pm

Maryam Kashani, “Cultivating Awe and Certainty,” with a response by Prof. Alireza Doostdar

Thursday, March 6, 2014 – 4:00pm
an ethnography on astronomy and religious practice in the contemporary US


Spring 2014

Jawad Qureshi, presenting on religious scholars and public politics in contemporary Syria, with response by Jonathan Brown (Georgetown University)

Friday, April 18 at 3:00pm

Jafar Mahallati, “”Friendship as an Ethical Worldview: A Qur’anic Perspective”

Monday, April 28 – 4:00pm.

Timothy Gutmann, “Demands of Progress: Postcolonial Thought and Modern Education in Modern Egypt and China”

Thursday, May 15 – 4:00pm