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.


Fatma Muge Gocek

UnknownAdolf Hitler famously (and probably) said in a speech to his military leaders “Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?” This remark is generally taken to suggest that future generations won’t remember current atrocities, so there’s no reason not to commit them. The implication is that memory has something like an expiration date, that it fades, somewhat inevitably, of its own accord.

At the heart of Fatma Muge Gocek‘s book is the claim that forgetting doesn’t just happen. Rather, forgetting (and remembering) happens in a context, with profound political and personal stakes for those involved. And this forgetting has consequences.

Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians 1789-2009 (Oxford University Press, 2015) looks at how this process played out in Turkey in the past 200 years. Gocek looks at both the mechanisms and the logic of forgetting. In doing so she sets the Turkish decisions to reinterpret the Armenian genocide into a longer tale of modernization and collective violence. And she illustrates the complicated ways in which remembering and forgetting collide.



In September 2014 the Duke Islamic Studies Center (which manages the Transcultural Islam Project of which TIRN is a part), announced its official institutional affiliation with New Books in Islamic Studies — a bi-weekly audio podcast featuring hour long conversations with authors of exciting new research. For an archive see HERE.

Between Psychoanalysis as Practice and as Social Theory

by TAMAR SHIRINIAN for ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 29, 2014:

 “Is psychoanalysis possible in the Islamic Republic of Iran?” This is the question that Gohar Homayounpour poses to herself, and to us, at the beginning of this memoir of displacement, nostalgia, love, and pain. Twenty years after leaving her country, Homayounpour, an Iranian, Western-trained psychoanalyst, returns to Tehran to establish a psychoanalytic practice. When an American colleague exclaims, “I do not think that Iranians can free-associate!” Homayounpour responds that in her opinion Iranians do nothing but. Iranian culture, she says, revolves around stories. Why wouldn’t Freud’s methods work, given Iranians’ need to talk? — Excerpt from the Overview of Gohar Homayounpour’s book Doing Psychoanalysis in Iran (MIT Press, 2012)

Tamar Shirinian
Tamar Shirinian

While many in the West think of Iran as an impossible site for the practice of psychoanalysis — where the patient is assumed to be far too repressed to be able to talk freely — Iranian psychoanalyst Gohar Homayounpour says in fact there are many ways in which the context of Iran is precisely the perfect place for a practice.

Homayounpour was invited to Duke University last month by the Women’s Studies department to participate in a series of talks on her work. One talk — “Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran” — covered the clinical aspects of psychoanalysis in a doctor-patient setting and how the social and political context, including during the 2009 Iran elections protests, is of great importance.

Another covered the “Geographies of Psychoanalysis,” which shed light on the importance of an attunement to geographies outside of the West (the focus of the International Psychoanalysis Association until very recently) and its implications for psychoanalysis.

For her third talk — “Psychoanalysis and the Veil” — she was joined by Ranjana Khanna (Director of Women’s Studies at Duke and professor of English, women’s studies, and literature) and Duke literature professor Negar Mottahedeh.

I had the privilege to attend two of the three talks, “Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran” and “Geographies of Psychoanalysis.” In this essay, I would like to explore the themes of these talks and implications for my own research. Continue reading

by ALI ALTAF MIAN for ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN on NOVEMBER 6, 2014:

Ali Mian
Ali Mian

Is Sigmund Freud a stranger to the robust intellectual scenes of the modern Middle East? Is there mutual ignorance between Islam and psychoanalysis? Do only secular Arab thinkers invoke Western discourses of suspicion, such as psychoanalysis?

In a forthcoming monograph, provisionally titled The Arabic Freud, UC-Davis historian Omnia El Shakry casts much-needed light on modern intellectual collaborations and interconnected webs of knowledge production between Egypt and Europe, especially with reference to psychoanalysis. She investigates the travels of psychoanalysis in post-WWII Egypt, primarily through an exploration of social scientific, religious, and legal writings about self and subjectivity. This important work will illuminate how Arab scholars in the 1940s and 1950s understood the emerging disciplinary space of psychology as a science of selfhood and the soul. The disciplines of psychology and psychoanalysis in this context were therefore not reduced to empirical studies of mental processes. In fact, mental health professionals and psychologists, but also Islamic thinkers and legal practitioners, creatively blended European discourses of self and psyche with local Islamicate knowledge traditions.

Omnia El Shakry
Omnia El Shakry

In a recent talk at Duke University, El Shakry discussed the emergence of the psychosexual subject in postwar Egyptian discourses, as evident in the Journal of Psychology (Majallat ‘ilm al-nafs). This journal was founded in 1945 by the Egyptian psychology professor Yusuf Murad and psychoanalyst Mustafa Ziywar. The postwar period witnessed an innovative discussion about human sexuality, shifting from the fin-de-siècle focus on biomedicine and psychiatric nosology to psychology, psychoanalysis, and Islamic mystical and ethical traditions. These intellectual overlaps between Europe and Egypt refute the claim that psychoanalysis and Islam are incompatible.

El Shakry also argued that in contradistinction to the crisis of masculinity in Egypt between WWI and WWII (as discussed by Middle Eastern studies specialists such as Hanan Kholoussy, Wilson Jacob, and Liat Kozma), postwar discourses increasingly started to analyze the female body and psyche. In this way, contributors to the Journal of Psychology asked fresh questions, extending the limits of the thinkable in Egyptian academic circles.

Gender and sexual formation were taken to be compelling questions, addressed by various authors who contributed to the Journal of Psychology. On the pages of this journal, Egyptian readership encountered theories that explained how heterosexual masculinity and femininity were nearly impossible norms of psychosexual development. At places, readers were even introduced to the desirability of homosocial romantic attachments as the quintessential model for ideal heterosexuality. Continue reading

by JOSEPH RICHARD PREVILLE for ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN on JANUARY 15, 2014: 

Fathers and Sons in the Arab Middle East by Dalya Cohen-Mor
Fathers and Sons in the Arab Middle East by Dalya Cohen-Mor

What is the relationship between Arab fathers and sons?  How is it shaped by faith and culture?  And, how is their relationship evolving in the contemporary Arab Middle East?  Dalya Cohen-Mor answers these questions in her fascinating new book, Fathers and Sons in the Arab Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Dalya Cohen-Mor is a literary scholar of Middle Eastern background educated in the Netherlands and the United States.  She earned her Ph.D. in Arabic Language and Literature from Georgetown University and is currently affiliated with George Washington University. Cohen-Mor is the author of A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World As Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature (2001), and Mothers and Daughters in Arab Women’s Literature: The Family Frontier (2011).

In her new book, Cohen-Mor aims to “unlock the mysteries” of the relationship between Arab fathers and sons. “The father-son relationship,” she states, “offers a rare glimpse into the ‘privileged’ world of men, highlighting the complexity of male bonding, the issue of solidarity and brotherhood, and the challenge of social change in a volatile region of vital significance in world affairs.”

Dalya Cohen-Mor discusses her book in this exclusive interview. Continue reading