Sophia Rose Arjana
Sophia Rose Arjana

In Muslims in the Western Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2015), Sophia Rose Arjana explores a variety of creative productions—including art, literature, film—in order to tell a story not about how Muslims construct their own identities but rather about how Western thinkers have constructed ideas about Muslims and monsters. To what extent are these imaginary constructs real? Is it possible for one’s imagination to create things that are more telling than what is actually real?

61syyE0kiML._SL160_Arjana’s monograph is compelling, in part, because of the plethora of examples she offers—from a range of cultures and time periods—to help us understand just how deeply stereotypes and fears run in the very fabric of Western imaginations. She demonstrates, in fact, that it’s not just Muslims who are portrayed in troubling ways, but also characters that seem foreign to any extent. Dracula, for example, pushes boundaries between Muslim and Jewish — and is also not quite human; in this way, Arjana draws important parallels between the historically contingent categories of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Continue reading

Hayv Kahraman’s artworks are featured on the three covers of JMEWS 2015. She discusses her art in this brief excerpt from her essay “Collective Performance: Gendering Memories of Iraq” (Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies; Volume 11, Number 1, March 2015, pp. 117-123, Duke University Press) One of the co-editors of JMEWS 2015, miriam cooke, said “Kahraman’s art is changing the look of the journal.” 



Let me share with you my memories.

I remember once when my dad was driving in downtown Bagdad and we passed a narrow street that led into a larger square. I was in the front seat of the car and pointed up toward the demolished building and asked him, “What happened?”

There was a foggy air around this once-tall building—now half its size—that made me recall the many dust storms that occupied the city every now and then.

“It is because of the Iran-Iraq War,” he said with a low voice, as we turned the corner.

That was the first time I had seen destruction of that magnitude.

I remember clinging to my mother in the basement of my uncle’s house in Suleymania in northern Iraq. I remember my relatives curled around candles, waiting for the loud noises outside to stop. Despite my fear, a sense of solidarity prevailed: I was surrounded by my family, and somehow I felt protected as we all sang and played games in the dark. Continue reading

via A. DAVID LEWIS and MARTIN LUND on APRIL 7, 2015: 

Editors A. David Lewis and Martin Lund Now are accepting chapter proposals for new collection with established publisher interest!

Despite turning a rather blind eye to them through much of the twentieth century, major American comic book publishers like Marvel Comics and DC Comics have featured, in the twentyfirst century, numerous Muslim superhero characters, with the seeming intention to diversify their fictional universes and to provide corrective representations of Muslims in a cultural moment when stereotype and vilification of Muslims and Islam is particularly rife. The most recent example is Marvel’s Kamala Khan ( Ms. Marvel , Feb. 2014). Although it might be easy to dismiss Ms. Marvel as something peripheral, she was discussed in various mainstream media long before her first appearance. High praise was expressed by Muslims and non-Muslims who thought the character could help “normalize” Muslims in American eyes while vehement opposition was voiced by critics who regarded her as “appeasement” of Muslims. As recently as January 2015, the character was plastered on antiMuslim ads in San Francisco, illustrating the cultural power such characters can attain. It seems clear that, today, Muslim superheroes and Islam in comic books, more generally matter greatly to a large number of Muslims and nonMuslims alike. Continue reading


MalcolmXPosterFebruary 21, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century, Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His life — as a black figure, as a Muslim figure, and as an international figure — and legacy have gotten widespread media and scholarly attention.

There are many academic Malcolm X representations, readings, and interpretations, and with many great figures in human history, their legacy is more and something other than that great person’s biography.

Said Duke Islamic Studies Center Director Omid Safi: “We are living through the 50th anniversary of many of the monumental events in the history of the civil rights movement. The protests in Ferguson, New York and elsewhere tell us that issues of racism, brutality, poverty and militarism are still with us.”

A national conference on “The Legacy of Malcolm X: Afro-American Visionary, Muslim Activist” was held on 2/20/15 and 2/21/15 at Duke and UNC — co-organized by Safi, UNC-Chapel Hill Islamic Studies professor Juliane Hammer, and African & African American Studies professor and host of Left of Black Mark Anthony Neal.

“Our aim is to commemorate his life, his thought and his unique contributions to struggles for justice, recognition and change in a world he experienced as both a challenge and a promise,” said Hammer.

The conference was sponsored by the Duke Islamic Studies Center. Cosponsors included the Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Duke University), Department of Religious Studies (Duke University), African and African American Studies (Duke University), and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations (UNC-Chapel Hill).

Conference participants included Safi; Hammer; Neal; William Chafe (Emeritus, Duke); William “Sandy” Darity (Duke); Michael Muhammad Knight (UNC Chapel Hill); Hisham Aidi (Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs), Maytha Alhassen (University of Southern California), Zaheer Ali (CUNY, Columbia University, Malcolm X Project), Abbas Barzegar (Georgia State University), Sohail Daulatzai (University of California-Irvine), William “Bill” Hart (University of North Carolina-Greensboro), and Jamillah Karim (author). Continue reading


Neilesh Bose
Neilesh Bose

[Cross-posted from New Books in South Asian Studies] In his new book Recasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal (Oxford University Press, 2014), 513oer5lXQL._SL160_Neilesh Bose analyses the trajectories of Muslim Bengali politics in the first half of the twentieth century. The literary and cultural history of the region explored in the book reveal the pointedly Bengali ideas of Pakistan that arose as an empire ended and new countries were born.

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