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.


2015 Happy New Year greeting cardHappy New Year to you and yours! May this coming year bring you good health, love, and peace!

TIRN would like to thank our readers so much for your support this year — for subscribing, reading, and sharing across your networks.

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Our News & Publications page features short descriptions and links to current scholarship as well as calls for papers, conference announcements, other scholarly news, book reviews and summaries, and scholarly research & analysis (both aggregated, and submitted specifically to TIRN (MyTIRN). If you are interested in submitting content for this page please contact the editor at [email protected]



Kecia Ali
Kecia Ali

Ten thousand people descend on San Diego this weekend for the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature joint Annual Meeting. We will present papers, interview and be interviewed, shop for books, and network busily. Many will feel overwhelmed, lost, and/or hungry – convention center food somehow always manages to be lousy and expensive.

I have attended nearly every AAR Annual Meeting since 1999. I have presented papers, spoken on panels, responded to sessions, led tables at pre-conference workshops, and presided at business meetings. I have served on program unit steering committees and chaired a Section. I have gone to editorial board breakfasts and AAR committee meetings.  I have had coffee with editors with whom I’ve gone on to publish books. I have served as a mentor at the Women’s Mentoring Lunch. Though I never used the Employment Center as a job candidate, I have put in cubicle time as part of two search committees.

In other words, I know something about the Annual Meeting. Continue reading

Duke alumnus returns to lead Islamic Studies Center


The new director of Islamic studies Omid Safi wants Duke faculty to fill in those key elements that are missing in the current public discussion on Islam. Photo by Jon Gardiner/Duke University Photography
The new director of Islamic studies Omid Safi wants Duke faculty to fill in those key elements that are missing in the current public discussion on Islam. Photo by Jon Gardiner/Duke University Photography

Omid Safi came to Duke two decades ago “a shy, geeky poor immigrant kid from Iran.” He returns now as a senior faculty member determined to repay a debt for allowing him “to dream dreams I didn’t even know I was capable of.”

The new William and Bettye Martin Musham Director for Islamic Studies, Safi takes leadership of a program at both a flourishing and contentious time for the study of Islam.  One public conversation on Islam tends to focus on the acts of armed groups, or self-proclaimed Islamists, but Safi said a larger conversation within Islam is also occurring, one that is both historic and welcome, although often less visible to the larger world.

“The visible public conversation about Islam right now is a crisis-driven one” Safi said. “The discourse jumps from Arab Spring to Libya to ISIS to Gaza and that’s understandable and driven in part by nature of corporate media.

“But that misses something dramatic and profound:  we are living in an age of excitement and ferment within the Muslim-majority context. Virtually every issue of import – gender, the relationship to the state, pluralism, who can interpret scripture, citizenship, resistance and violence – all are being debated in elite and popular circles.

“It would be unthinkable 25 years ago that large numbers of women, in bold fashion and all over the political spectrum are speaking out not just as subjects of religious discussions but as their articulators.  This is getting missed by the rest of the world, and I would like to shine a light on these debates and developments.”

Safi comes to the Duke Islamic Studies Center (DISC) expecting DISC faculty be a prominent part of the public discourse around Islam.

Continue reading

In this two-part interview (below),  African American studies professor at Duke University Mark Anthony Neal offers his insights on public scholarship, academic blogging, and leveraging social media.


Why Professors Should Disseminate their Knowledge and Share Opinions to Public Audiences EXCERPT: Professors have a megaphone to the world. There are incredible opportunities for academics to communicate their knowledge with the general public through traditional and social media. While many don’t for various reasons, there are a number of professors who are doing this incredibly well. One such individual is Mark Anthony Neal, an African American studies professor at Duke University and author of the book New Black Man. The term “incredibly well” is quite a superlative, yet this is probably an understatement. As I noted in a previous post, Mark Anthony Neal’s blog featured 1063 posts in 2012. That’s not a typo! He averaged almost three different posts per day. In 2013, this number shrank to a “disappointing low of” 821 – that’s still more than two posts per day over the course of a year!

I had the opportunity to sit down with Mark and will be doing a series of blog posts with him on various aspects of his “media empire” and the best practice he can share with other professors. Here is part 1 focused on his strategy, goals and why he does this. FULL INTERVIEW

Leveraging Social Media as an Academic EXCERPT: Imagine writing or editing over 1,000 blog posts in a year. Or what about engaging with over 28,000 followers on Twitter. For Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal, this is not a dream but a reality.

In a previous post, Mark outlined why he considered external communications important as a professor. So if you are not sure why you should blog, revert back to that post first! In this follow-up Q and A, he shares some of the lessons learned from his years of blogging and using social media.

How did you first get involved with blogging?
I started my blog in 2006 in part to promote my new book: New Black Man. I quickly realized that I could connect my content to my book and generate more visibility and also use the blog to promote radio and television interviews.

What does it take to be a successful blogger?
I never thought of myself as blogging. In fact, I work hard not to describe myself as a blogger. When I write on my site, I am writing. It might be shorter and pitched to a different audience, but it follows the same kind of sensibilities if I was doing a piece for The Atlantic Monthly or some other outlet. FULL INTERVIEW