Upcoming Events

  • Richard Nielsen: Can Ideas be 'Killed'?
    Monday, 26 January 2015 at 12:00 AM

    Richard Nielsen is Assistant Professor of Political Science at MIT. He received his PhD in Government and AM in Statistics from Harvard University, and his BA from Brigham Young University. His current work uses statistical text analysis and fieldwork in Cairo mosques to understand the radicalization of jihadi clerics in the Arab world. Nielsen also writes on international law, the political economy of human rights, political violence, and political methodology. Some of this work is published or forthcoming in The American Journal of Political Science and International Studies Quarterly. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. (more)

  • Laurie Margot-Ross: Remembrance and Motion in Colonial Java
    Thursday, 29 January 2015 at 12:15 PM

    Sama (‘hearing’ or ‘spiritual audition’) is often associated with dhikr—the remembrance of God through recitation. The term has been defined differently at various times, having earlier been associated with listening to poetry and music. Today sama is considered a Sufi activity broadly connected to listening to music or chanting and/or body movement. The term’s flexibility has culminated in diverse aesthetic expressions in different places and eras. It is usually associated with Ottoman Turkey and the Indian Subcontinent. Rarely is it considered within the Malay world, the topic of this talk. Uniting them is their capacity to translate religio-cultural ideas into a non-narrative, sensory medium, whose quintessential goal is to establish a deep connection to the Divine. This talk explores how itinerant maskers, who trace their lineage to a Sufi saint, transformed a popular entertainment into a Sufic form in the late 19th-century Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Earlier that century -- when the colonial government built the main road along Java’s north coast to link entrepreneurs, administrators, and the floating work force with the products of commerce -- they could not anticipate that deep transformations in mystical praxis would occur along this same route. Yet that is precisely what happened when the maskers developed their craft into an expression of the Sufi Path, tarekat. Their headdresses became portable altars; their shawls, initiatic cloaks; and their plain, wooden chests holding their masks became their tombs. The masks, in the dancers’ capable hands, and accompanied by a small band of musicians, set this cosmology into motion. When Suharto suppressed itinerancy after his 1965 coup d’état, we would have predicted masking’s disappearance in Indonesia. Its fate proved different. At first it was prohibited but, soon after, institutionalized as Topeng Cirebon: the movements became standardized; their villages turned into tourist destinations; and their dances were exported. Yet its theology, garments, and performing objects aimed at mystical union, endure.

  • Sherman Jackson: Shariah and Democracy
    Thursday, 29 January 2015 at 07:00 PM

    Sherman Jackson is King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture,  Director, Center for Islamic Thought, Culture and Practice and Professor of Religion and of American Studies and Ethnicity.

  • Terror, Freedom, Blasphemy: Reflections on Citizenship in Our Times
    Friday, 30 January 2015 at 12:00 PM

    January 30, 2015, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm,  Encina Central CISAC Central Conference Room  (616 Serra Street) Join us for a panel discussion on "Terror, Freedom, Blasphemy: Reflections on Citizenship in Our Times" The Panel will be featuring  Thoraya Boumehdi (Stanford Language Center).   Aishwary Kumar (History) Shahzad Bashir  (Religious Studies)  Robert Crews (History) and Destin Jenkins (History)

  • Rachel Gillum: Muslim-American Attitude Formation
    Tuesday, 10 February 2015 at 06:30 PM

    February 10, 2015 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm  Pigott Hall Rm 113 (450 Serra Mall) Rachel Gillum (Stanford University) "Muslim-American Attitude Formation Toward U.S. Law Enforcement" How do Muslim-Americans form beliefs about the treatment they expect to receive from US law enforcement? The results of an original, nationally-representative survey of Muslim- Americans suggest three key findings. First, Muslims' awareness of group-based injustices increases across successive generations, with the most negative attitudes towards law enforcement held by U.S.-born Arabs and Blacks. The data also provides an empirical account of the effects of sending-country institutions on immigrants' attitudes and experiences in their new host countries. Newer immigrants from countries with corrupt institutions bring with them to the United States more negative expectations of government than those who came from non-corrupt countries. By the time immigrants have naturalized, however, their attitudes no longer reflect the institutions of their sending-country. Immigrants who have gone through the naturalization process become more cynical, regardless of their country of origin. The findings reveal that while beliefs about government institutions are sticky, they are updated overtime with new experiences.

  • Shelia Carapico: Arab Activism
    Thursday, 12 February 2015 at 12:00 PM

    European and US-based scholars and practitioners have debated the purposes and sometimes the (limited) macro-effects of programs designed to promote transitions from authoritarianism to democracy in Middle East countries. Yet this discussion often lacks analysis of on-the-ground experiences or ignores the cumulative wisdom of local counterparts and intermediaries. This seminar is based on Carapico’s ground-breaking study Political Aid and Arab Activism: Democracy Promotion, Justice, and Representation (Cambridge University Press, 2013) which explores two decades’ worth of projects sponsored by American, European, and other transnational agencies in four key sub-fields: the rule of law, electoral design and monitoring, female empowerment, and civil society. Specifically in the seminar Carapico will discuss controversies and contradictions surrounding projects in Egypt, Palestine, and Iraq (the three main cases) and Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, and Lebanon (where democracy brokers also work) to help explain why so many feminists and other advocates for justice, free elections, and civic agency concluded that foreign funding is inherently political and paradoxical.

  • Sherene Seikaly: Egypt's Bread Intifada
    Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 12:30 PM

    February 17, 2015, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm, Okimoto Conference Room, 3rd Floor East Wing Encina Hall (616 Serra Street) Sherene Seikaly (University of California, Santa Barbara) "Egypt’s Bread Intifada: On the Subject of the People" Over the last four years of upheaval in the Arab world, the notion of “the people,” Egyptian and otherwise, has proven profoundly resilient. It is these “people”—as individuals and a collective—that are problematically celebrated as subjects finally fulfilling their long-awaited destiny; dismissed as passive objects duped by external forces and incapable of politics; or incited against as dangerous masses capable of destroying the nation. In returning to this historical moment of the “Bread Intifada,” of 1977 this project interrupts the narrative resilience of the alternating sleep and wakefulness of the Egyptian, and more broadly the Arab people. “A Protest of the Poor” engages 18-19 January 1977 as a moment of politics and popular sovereignty. In doing so it challenges ‘who and what’ counts as political. In mapping the role food played in protestors’ and government strategies and demands, “A Protest of the Poor,” examines how basic needs function as a trigger of social upheaval as well as a vehicle of political containment. Through the examination of how poverty and hunger figure into politics, this project reveals contemporary critiques of the open door policy. It explores how government officials, journalists, and protestors defined and ultimately contained the “poor” and the “hungry.” More importantly, by attending to how protestors narrate and represent themselves and the tools they used to make their claims, this project troubles the construction of the “people.” In so doing, it explores continuity and rupture between 1977 and 2011.

  • Academic Freedom and Middle East Studies
    Thursday, 19 February 2015 at 12:00 AM

    A conversation with Steven Salaita, Joel Beinin, and Robert Crews. The discussion will be moderated by David Palumbo-Liu. (more) Steven Salaita received his Ph.D. in Native American, Palestinian and Arab American Literature from University of Oklahoma. His work focuses on Arab Americans, indigenous peoples, race and ethnicity, and literature. He has taught at Virginia Tech University and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and served as Executive Director of Radius of Arab American Writers. He is the author of Israel's Dead Soul, Modern Arab American Fiction: A Reader's Guide, The Uncultured Wars: Arabs, Muslims, and the Poverty of Liberal Thought, Anti-Arab Racism in the USA, The Holy Land in Transit, and Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures, and Politics. His tenure-track job offer at the University of Illinois was rescinded in Fall 2014, leading to a nation-wide controversy about academic freedom and freedom of expression. [Co-sponsored by the Center for Comparative Studies on Race and Ethnicity]

  • Mai al-Nakib: The Hidden Light of Objects
    Tuesday, 24 February 2015 at 12:00 AM

    Mai Al-Nakib is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Kuwait University. She received her PhD in English Literature from Brown University. Her book The Hidden Light of Objects (Bloomsbury, 2014), which explores the private struggles of adolescence, marriage and middle age by taking a quiet look at the lives of ordinary people living in the Middle East, has been awarded the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s 2014 First Book Award. She lives in Kuwait and is currently working on her first novel.

  • Lawrence Nees: Lawrence Nees:Manuscripts and Ivories during the Reign of Charlemagne
    Thursday, 26 February 2015 at 12:00 AM

    February 26, 2015 Lawrence Nees (University of Delaware) “The Aesthetics of Translation: Approaching the Mediterranean from the Burgundian-Flemish Perspective.”

  • Anne Rasmussen
    Thursday, 05 March 2015 at 12:15 PM

    Anne K. Rasmussen is professor of music and ethnomusicology and currently serves as chair of the Department of Music. Since 1994 Rasmussen has directed the William and Mary Middle Eastern Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, a forum for the study and performance of music and with musicians from the Middle East and Arab world. Rasmussen also serves on the faculty of Asian and Middle East Studies at William and Mary and has been chair of the Middle East Studies Faculty and co- director the Asian Studies Initiative. She was also professor for the William and Mary in Washington Program in Spring 2007.