by ELLIOTT BAZZANO for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on MAY 4, 2016:

Asma Afsaruddin
Asma Afsaruddin

Unknown-1As the title of the monograph suggests, Contemporary Issues in Islam (Edinburgh University Press, 2015) by Asma Afsaruddin, guides the reader through an organized and compelling narrative of reflections on hot-button topics in the modern world. The monograph offers a provocative balance of historical contextualization, close reading of texts, review of key scholars, and political analysis. Given its treatment of topics such as Islamic law, gender, international relations, and interfaith dialogue, the book should prove useful in a graduate or undergraduate context–either as a whole or as individual chapters–particularly as a conversation starter, given the depths to which each chapter points. Although the scope of the book may appear ambitious, Professor Afsaruddin is well-equipped to manage the breadth of her study into a concise, lucid, and well written text. Given her research background in jihad and violence as well as Quranic hermeneutics, moreover, Contemporary Issues in Islam is a mature work that reflects decades of careful research and intellectual synthesis with ample attention to both primary and secondary literature. The monograph will likely appeal not only to scholars and students in religious studies and Islamic studies, but also political science and history as well as journalists.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH AFSARUDDIN

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.

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on NOVEMBER 25, 2015: 

November 23, 2015 Statement by Middle East Studies Association

The Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association condemns the increasing frequency and intensity of violent acts against civilians taking place in countries around the world. We are also alarmed at the related rise in the stereotyping and vilification of people of Middle East or Muslim background.

We urge, therefore, those with responsibility for United States policy in the Middle East and the Islamic world to avail themselves of the insights of scholarship as they seek to understand the background of these violent acts and to frame responses to them.

We are deeply concerned that people who are or appear to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern background—citizens, residents and displaced persons seeking refuge—have been and continue to be the victims of discrimination in the US as well as other countries. This discrimination can occur in any area of public life, including employment, travel, access to accommodation and access to other goods, services and facilities. It can involve harassment, vilification and at times actual violence.

We deplore the reckless rhetoric of some public figures that is only increasing the likelihood of discrimination and the violation of the civil rights of people of Middle East and Muslim background. We commend the efforts of public officials to prevent acts of harassment and retaliation and encourage them to redouble their efforts in this direction.

Ignorance and misunderstanding of the Middle East and the Islamic world are rife in the US and other Western countries. This lack of accurate information must be addressed by the educational system at all levels. We call upon MESA members to actively share their expertise about the Middle East, Islam, and the Islamic world with the communities in which they live and work, and to make every effort as educators to communicate their invaluable knowledge and understanding to representatives of the media and policy makers.

We advocate tolerance, education, understanding, and thoughtfully planned measures to assure that these acts of violence are not followed by further senseless destruction or discrimination. Continue reading

by NICK CHEESMAN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on SEPTEMBER 15, 2015: 

Christopher R. Duncan
Christopher R. Duncan

Researching the communal killings that occurred in North Maluku, Indonesia during 1999 and 2000, Christopher Duncan was struck by how participants “experienced the violence as a religious conflict and continue to remember it that way”, yet outsiders–among them academics, journalists, and NGO workers–have tended to dismiss or downplay its religious features. Agreeing that we need to move beyond essentialist explanations, Duncan nevertheless insists that the challenge for scholars “is to explain the role of religion in the violence without essentializing it.”

In Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia (Cornell University Press, 2013) he takes up the challenge. Drawing on over a decade of research in North Maluku, and informed by time spent in the region prior to the conflict, Duncan speaks with impressive authority about the before, during and after of the bloodshed. Utilizing work by scholars of political violence and the management of memory like Stanley Tambiah and Steve Stern, he shows how participants themselves produced and reproduced master narratives of holy warfare. In the process, he critiques scholarship that overstates elite agendas and machinations, remaining too focused on the causes of violence and losing sight of how, in the words of Gerry Van Klinken, “a runaway war can become decoupled from its initial conditions”. Continue reading

by ELLIOTT BAZZANO for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on MAY 6, 2015: 

Michael Birkel

Unknown-1Michael Birkel‘s Qur’an in Conversation (Baylor University Press, 2014) challenges its readers to think deeply about the Qur’an. The book will likely leave the reader with many answers but also many questions. By drawing on academic scholars, imams, lawyers, and activists this edited volume presents a series of compelling, masterfully written, digestible, and personal accounts of the Qur’an.

It addresses tough questions about violence, gender, interfaith relations, and authority, but not in an apologetic manner. The authors make clear that the Qur’an is not merely an old text, but also a living text, teeming with evolving interpretations and debates. Because all of the writers are based in the United States, moreover, the Qur’an in Conversation seamlessly incorporates discussions of the Qur’an with contemporary issues in American culture.

It thus becomes clear that the Qur’an is an American text as well as an Arabic text and a Muslim text. The chapters are arranged thematically, and one could reasonably read them sequentially or not, depending on the purpose. The text, therefore, offers a range of pedagogical functions and is sure to benefit classroom use, especially because of its readable and erudite prose. Birkel has set a high bar for future edited volumes that follow models anything like Qur’an in Conversation.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH BIRKEL

 

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.

by KELLY MCFALL for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on MAY 11, 2015: 

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.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH MUGE GOCEK

 

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.