by SHERALI TAREEN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on FEBRUARY 8, 2016:
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 →
by HEATH BROWN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on JANUARY 26, 2016:
Deepa Iyer is the author of We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press, 2015). Iyer is Senior Fellow at Center for Social Inclusion and was Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) for a decade prior.
Drawing on professional experiences in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and years leading a national advocacy organization, Iyer weaves personal anecdotes, excellent elite interviews, and policy recommendations into We Too Sing America. She calls out the organized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political movement in the country and calls for mobilized political action by South Asians to resist these threats. Scholars and policy practitioners interested in immigrant rights will enjoy this new book. Continue reading →
by SHERALI TAREEN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on JANUARY 26, 2015:
Pakistan is often caricatured and stereotyped as a volatile nuclear country on the precipice of disaster. Such depictions are often especially acerbic when comes to the issue of Women’s rights in the country. In her important new book, Interpreting Islam, Modernity, and Women’s Rights in Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Anita Weiss, Professor of International Studies at the University of Oregon, provides a much-needed corrective to such sensationalist stereotypes. By exploring how multiple state and non-state actors have engaged the question of gender and women’s rights over time and space, Weiss demonstrates ways in which a diversity of voices in Pakistan conduct what she calls “everyday Ijtihad,” thus offering a much more nuanced and informed perspective.
In our conversation, we talked about a range of issues such as the history of the Pakistani state’s approach towards defining and engaging women’s rights, the role of Progressive NGOs like the Aurat Foundation, Orthodox Islamist voices on this question, and the Tehrik-i Taliban in Swat. This lucidly written book contains a plethora of useful information and analysis for specialists and non-specialists alike.
by KRISTIAN PETERSEN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on JANUARY 12, 2016:
In the current political moment there is widespread anti-Muslim rhetoric and it would be easy to conclude that a large portion of white Americans see Islam at odds with American values. But a longer view of history reveals a long-standing appreciation for Islam and even conversion to the tradition among white Americans.
Patrick D. Bowen, and independent scholar, uncovers this rich history in A History of Conversion to Islam in the United States, Volume 1: White American Muslims before 1975 (Brill, 2015). Bowen outlines Americans view Islam in 19th century and early 20th century and demonstrates the various motivations for conversion. Early converts who ‘Turned Turk’ were seen as renegades by most of their peers but the broadening of American liberal religiosity throughout the 19th century fostered further intellectual engagement with the tradition. Early 20th century saw significant changes in the social landscape that shaped conversion. It was now social relationships rather than esoteric interests that aided white Americans in their conversion. Greater contact with immigrant Muslims and greater participation in Islamic organizations, publications, and social activities further increased conversion throughout the second half of the century. Continue reading →
by ROXANNE PANCHASI for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on JANUARY 5, 2016:
Mayanthi Fernando‘s The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism (Duke University Press, 2014) is an important and provocative book. Drawing on years of field work, the book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex interactions between religion and politics in contemporary France. Considering the Islamic revival and public debates provoked initially by the “headscarf crisis” of the late 1980s, the book examines the ethical, social, and political lives of the Muslim French men and women whose religiosity is so often regarded as “incommensurable” with the democratic culture and politics of the nation. Continue reading →