by SHERALI TAREEN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on FEBRUARY 8, 2016: 

Kishwar Rizvi

In her excellent new book The Transnational Mosque: Architecture and Historical Memory in the Contemporary Middle East (UNC Press, 2015), Kishwar Rizvi, Associate Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, interrogates the interaction of history, memory, and architecture by exploring arguably the most important sacred space in Islam: the mosque.

By combining the study of religion, history, and architecture in the most compelling of ways, Rizvi highlights the material and political significance of the mosque as a transnational symbol. While focused on the contexts of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, the theoretical insights of this richly textured book extend much beyond the contemporary Middle East. In our conversation, we talked about the concept of the transnational mosque, the historicist desires and assumptions that often undergird projects of mosque construction in Muslim societies, the transnational mosque, religious identity and international politics, and ways in which mobile networks of architects and corporations reorient our understanding of what we mean by the Middle East. Continue reading

Posted in Architecture, Books, Geography, History, Islamic Theology & Practice, Middle East & North Africa, Religion, urban development.

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 17, 2015: 

We at the Duke Islamic Studies Center are pleased to announce that the work of the Carnegie Corporation of New York-supported Transcultural Islam Project (ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN) has been highlighted in a new report by the Social Science Research Council — “Religion, Media and the Digital Turn.” The report surveyed 160 digital projects and documents the effects that digital modes of research and publication have on the study of religion.

“While our primary goal is to chronicle emerging forms of intellectual production shaping the study of religion, we hope that a greater awareness of this new work will generate more recognition of the high quality and innovative work that already exists,” report authors Chris Cantwell (University of Missouri) and Hussein Rashid (New York University) write, explaining that “the most innovative digital projects are often those that creatively combine a number of these models or genres.”

ISLAMiCommentary was mentioned at the top of several subsections, for this reason, and a lengthy case study of ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN has been included in the report (in Appendix 1) because, as the report authors told us, they find the project “exemplary.” Other projects highlighted with lengthy case studies (in Appendix 1) include the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (MAVCOR) at Yale, the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project at the University of Loyola; and Mapping Ararat — a project of York University, the University of Toronto and Emerson College.

Appendix 2 lists the 160 projects surveyed.

The report can be downloaded HERE.

Posted in Americas, Anthropology, Arab men's studies, Arab Spring, Archaeology, Architecture, Arts & Culture, Asia, Citizenship, Colonialism, Cosmopolitanism, Digital Humanities, Economics, Education, Ethics, Eurasia, Europe, Gender, Geography, Health & Environment, History, Human Rights, Humanities, information science, Interdisciplinary, Interfaith, International Studies, Islamic Law, Islamic Studies & Academia, Islamic Theology & Practice, Language & Literature, Law, Libraries and Information, Media & Communication, Medicine, Medieval Period, Middle East & North Africa, Migration, Muslim Ethics, Muslim Life, MyTIRN, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Public Scholarship, Published Paper, Race and Ethnicity, Religion, Scholarly Communication, Science & Technology, Security & Civil Liberties, Sexuality, Social Media & Visual Media, Social Sciences, Sociology, Spirituality/Mysticism, Sub-Saharan, East, and West Africa, urban development.

Column » ‘By the Book’ with Joseph Preville

by JOSEPH RICHARD PREVILLE and JULIE POUCHER HARBIN  for ISLAMiCommentary on NOVEMBER 20, 2015:

How did Muslims and Jews create and inhabit shared spaces in post-World War I France?  Historian Ethan B. Katz examines the “triangular affair” between Muslims, France, and Jews in his new book, The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France (Harvard University Press, Nov. 2015).  Katz states that “it is impossible to understand the history of Jewish-Muslim relations in France if we fail to place the French state at the heart of the story.”

He argues that Muslims and Jews “related to one another through their respective relationships to the French state and society and to definitions of French national and imperial belonging.”  Katz draws on a wealth of sources to show how Muslims and Jews interacted with each other in common and communal ways.  “To date,” he writes, “the lived interactions of ordinary Jews and Muslims in France have been almost entirely overlooked in both collective memory and scholarship.  A complex history of varied encounters risks being lost in the powerful current of contemporary events.”

Katz is Assistant Professor of History at University of Cincinnati.  He was educated at Amherst College and University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His scholarly work has appeared in Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Journal of European Studies, Jewish Quarterly Review, and Journal of North African Studies.  He is a contributor to A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations: From the Origins to the Present Day (Princeton University Press, 2013), edited by Benjamin Stora and Abdelwahab Meddeb.

Ethan B. Katz discusses his new book in this interview.

Why do you think it is important to place Jews and Muslims “within a single story” to understand their history in France?

Even though historians have tended to study Jews and Muslims in France separately, the two groups’ fates have often been intertwined.  In addition, their respective histories in France can be better understood when the two groups are compared. In the late nineteenth century, France decided to give full French citizenship to Jews in Algeria but not to Muslims in Algeria.  Both advocates and policymakers defended the decision by actively contrasting Jews, as allegedly Western, modern, and civilized with the larger native Muslim population, depicted as barbaric, primitive, and disconnected from Western norms.

It’s also important to note that large numbers of Jews and Muslims from North Africa who came to France had much in common: language, food, dress, music, even certain rituals.  Therefore, their daily encounters often did not fit our contemporary assumptions – or those of French policymakers at the time – about sharp inter-group divisions. Continue reading

Posted in Books, Citizenship, Colonialism, Europe, Geography, History, Islamic Theology & Practice, Middle East & North Africa, Muslim Life, MyTIRN, Religion.

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary/TIRN on MAY 6, 2015: 

Nora Fisher Onar is a Research Associate of the Centre for International Studies of the University of Oxford and a Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund in Washington DC. Fisher Onar presented “The Cosmo-Politics of Nostalgia: Istanbul, Identity, and Difference” at the March 19, 2015 workshop “Turkish Reasonable Accommodations: From Multiculturalism to Secular Nationalism and Back.”

“Istanbul is I think a fascinating site of analysis. We’ve heard about how it’s been an imperial capitol for almost three millennia and so it’s brought together groups of different ethnic, sectarian, religious, civilizational orientations,” said Fisher Onar, beginning her presentation. “In Orhan Pamuk’s words Istanbul is just emerging perhaps from a century of being a backwater. It’s never been as provincial for the past 2,000 years as it has been for the past 100 or 85 or so (years).”

She then argued: “I think we can make the claim that although Istanbul became a backwater, although it became homogenized along with the general process of the homogenizing nation-building that took place from the 1920s onwards, there was still a persistence, there as a certain sort of post-imperial cosmopolitan persistence in Istanbul and that we can access in various traces left upon the city.” Continue reading

Posted in Citizenship, Conference, Cosmopolitanism, Eurasia, Geography, Islamic Theology & Practice, Lecture, Middle East & North Africa, MyTIRN, Political Science, Race and Ethnicity, Religion, urban development.

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary for DUKE TODAY on APRIL 20, 2015: 

Erdag Goknar discusses the ramifications of the post WWI-partition of the Middle East. (Photo by Julie Harbin)

DURHAM, NC – At the end of World War I, the defeated capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, was “a city of poverty and refugees” with a multi-ethnic population of 1 million, with 100,000 refugees including Balkan Muslims, Russians, Crimean and Caucasian Muslims, Jews, Armenians and Turks.

“Multiple ethnicities and languages mixed and mingled. Each brought with it a separate ideology and vision,” said Duke Associate Professor of Turkish & Middle Eastern Studies Erdağ Göknar, speaking last week as part of the provost office’s Thomas Langford Lectureship.

When the British, French, Italians and Greeks arrived to occupy the city in 1918, they ignored the cosmopolitan space of the city, focusing instead on nationalities. The logic of emphasizing national groups was informed by Wilsonian principles of national self-determination. This was the same logic that led to the greater partition of Ottoman territory that Göknar said reconstituted the Middle East and whose violent consequences can be seen throughout the region today.

There were parts of the city that protested the occupation (mostly Muslims) and parts of the city that celebrated it (the minority populations). The occupation prefigured a human tragedy, what some scholars call the “unmixing” of people (“a euphemism for religious or ethnic cleansing”), as Göknar said. Continue reading

Posted in Citizenship, Cosmopolitanism, Eurasia, Geography, History, Lecture, Middle East & North Africa, Muslim Life, Political Science, Race and Ethnicity, urban development.