by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCOMMENTARY and TIRN with MBAYE LO on MAY 10, 2016:

Duke University Asian & Middle Eastern studies professor Mbayo Lo and University of Botswana theologian Muhammed Haron (a South African native) are the editors of a new book “Muslim Institutions of Higher Education in Postcolonial Africa” — published by Palgrave, Fall 2015.

The book’s authors include: Adnan A. Adikata (Islamic University in Uganda, Kampala, Uganda); Abdulmageed Ahmed (International University of Africa, Sudan); Chanfi Ahmed (Zentrum Moderner Orient, Germany); Ismail S. Gyagenda (Mercer University, Georgia); Moshood Mahmood Jimba (Kwara State University, Nigeria); Mamadou-Youry Sall  (Université Gaston Berger, Senegal); Hamza Mustafa Njozi, (Muslim University of Morogoro, Tanzania); Wardah M. Rajab-Gyagenda (Islamic University in Uganda); Ahmad K. Sengendo (Islamic University in Uganda); Adam Adebayo (Kogi State University, Nigeria); Alexander Thurston (Georgetown University); Adam Yousef Mousa (Republic of Chad); Roman Loimeier (University of Göttingen, Germany); Ousman Kobo (The Ohio State University).

The anthology, which grew out of *a workshop hosted by the Duke Islamic Studies Center in Fall 2013 on “Islamic Institutions of Higher Learning in Africa: Their History, Mission and Role in Regional Development,” examines, through case studies, the colonial discriminatory practices against Muslim education, and discusses the Islamic reform movement of the post-colonial experience.  (In the case of this book, Muslim institutions of higher learning refers to Islamic education at the university level.)

Haron wrote, in an essay published about the Duke workshop that brought together scholars and administrators: “Many Muslim institutions of higher learning have emerged on the African continent over the past few decades. These institutions have in one way or another made their contributions towards the societies and environments where they are situated. Despite the noble objectives of some that were set up, the objectives often have been unrealized as a result of a lack of financial and other resources. There have, however, been other institutions that have flourished and made invaluable inputs to their respective communities.”

In this written Q & A with ISLAMiCommentary, Professor Lo talks about the findings and conclusions of their book. Continue reading

by HEATH BROWN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on DECEMBER 16, 2015:

Alice Kang
Alice Kang

513+gYfAy7L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Alice J. Kang has written Bargaining for Women’s Rights: Activism in an Aspiring Muslim Democracy (University of Minnesota Press, 2015). Kang is assistant professor of political science and ethnic studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Much attention is paid to Muslim-majority countries across the Middle East, especially the contentious role of women’s rights in those countries. Less attention has been paid to Muslim democracies in Africa. Kang’s book focuses on the politics of women’s rights in one such country: Niger. Women’s rights activists in Niger have fought to participate in democratic governance, but haven’t won every recent battle. Kang highlights several successes as well as policy areas where women’s organizations have failed to win policy victories. The book has much to say about social movements and also the evolving way Muslim majority democracies grapple with human rights.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH KANG

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by SHERALI TAREEN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on DECEMBER 7, 2015:

Saba Mahmood
Saba Mahmood

51nf7rEROzL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_It is commonly thought that violence, injustice, and discrimination against religious minorities, especially in the Middle East, are a product of religious fundamentalism and myopia. Concomitantly, it is often argued, that more of secularism and less of religion represents the solution to this problem.

In her stunning new book Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report (Princeton University Press, 2015), Saba Mahmood, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, brings such a celebratory view of secularism into fatal doubt. Through a careful and brilliant analysis, Mahmood convincingly shows that far from a solution to the problem of interreligious strife, political secularism and modern secular governance are in fact intimately entwined to the exacerbation of religious tensions in the Middle East. Focusing on Egypt and the experience of Egyptian Copts and Bahais, Mahmood explores multiple conceptual and discursive registers to highlight the paradoxical qualities of political secularism, arguing that majority/minority conflict in Egypt is less a reflection of the failure of secularism and more a product of secular discourses and politics, both within and outside the country. Continue reading

by JASON SCHUMAN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on DECEMBER 11, 2015:  

maud-s-mandel51k+7IPXoFL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_In Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict (Princeton University Press, 2014), Maud S. Mandel, Dean of the College at Brown University, challenges the view that rising anti-Semitism in France is rooted solely in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Instead, Mandel argues that the Muslim-Jewish conflict in France has been shaped by local, national, and international forces, including the decolonization of French North Africa. Looking at key moments, from Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, to the 1968 student riots, to France’s experiments with multiculturalism in the 1980s, Mandel poses a challenge to the reductionist narrative of Muslim-Jewish polarization.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH MANDEL 

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by CARLA NAPPI for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on NOVEMBER 29, 2015:

41gAoQHIZML._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_Jorg Matthias Determann‘s new book looks at the history of modern biology in the Arab Gulf monarchies, focusing on the treatment of evolution and related concepts in the publications of biologists who worked in the Gulf states. Researching Biology and Evolution in the Gulf States: Networks of Science in the Middle East (I. B. Tauris, 2015) begins by describing a fatwa against Pokemon and opens out into an introduction of the sensitive nature of discussions related to evolution and creation in the Gulf. The ensuing chapters approach and answer a major question: given this sensitivity, what enabled scientists to nevertheless employ evolution in the political, religious, social, and natural environments of the Gulf? At least part of the answer lies in the importance of networks between scientists, plants, princes, local tribes, European businesses, animals, and other historical actors. The history of those networks – and the botanical, zoological, ornithological, and paleontological research they enabled – is a transnational and transregional one, and looks carefully at concerns with conservation, climate change, and economies at multiple levels. Determann’s book avoids telling this story in terms of the common tropes of decline and stagnation, and seeks instead to “go beyond the wholesale and often negative views of scientific production in the contemporary Arab world.” Enjoy!

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH DETERMANN

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.