As scholars engaged in the study of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, we are frequently confronted with a shared set of theoretical challenges: What epistemologies do we employ? On what terms may we connect, compare and contrast conceptual vocabularies sourced from across these regions? How do colonial structures and rubrics intervene in our scholarship, and is it possible to think past them? At this year's MESAAS Graduate Student Conference 2018, we hope to build a repertory of integrative modes of researching these regions that transcends the orthodox model of area studies.
Keynote lecture by Prof. Simon Gikandi, Princeton University.
Plenary session: discussion of MEI director Brinkley Messick's Shari'a Scripts.
MEI Faculty Lila Abu-Lughod delivers the 2018 Clifford Geertz Commemorative Lecture at Princeton University.
Following in Geertz’ footsteps by thinking comparatively, Abu-Lughod will reflect on Palestine’s apparent political impasses in relation to the experiences of other colonized places and peoples. This reflection is inspired specifically by the current ferment in critical indigenous and native studies about settler colonialism in places like Australia and North America. And now Palestine. New imaginations of sovereignty and self-determination are emerging in indigenous activism, whether enabled by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People or the politics of refusal of liberal “recognition.” The journey goes to a variety of museums and ritual spaces of recognition and ends with questions about how to judge the efflorescence of recent Palestinian cultural projects like the new Palestinian Museum. The infatuation with the framework of settler colonialism in Palestinian studies is, however contested and even problematic, productive precisely because of the way it generates comparisons and solidarities that burst open exhausted political imaginations and bring together the political, material, and moral.
Columbia University's popular student group, The Muslim Protagonist presents its annual symposium to be held Saturday February 24, 2018.
The theme for this year's symposium is “Authenticity?” A series of panels and workshops will discuss Muslim representation in popular culture: Who gets to shape the Muslim Narrative? What kinds of stories are being told about Muslims? What makes a story “authentic”? And why should we care?
Dr. Abed Kanaaneh joins the the Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia as a visiting scholar. He recently completed an award winning dissertation "Hizballah in Lebanon: Al-Muqawamah (Resistance) as a Contra-Hegemonic Project” at Tel Aviv University. His research interests include: Shiite political thought, radical Islamic movements, revolutionary thought in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and new Marxism in the Middle East.
Abed was previously the co-director of the Equality Policy Department at Sikkuy—The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel. He also headed communist member of parliament Dov Khenin’s staff and was the spokesperson of the Arab Center for Alternative Planning.
MEI congratulates Director Brinkley Messick on his new book, Shari'a Scripts: A Historical Anthropology.
A case study in the textual architecture of the venerable legal and ethical tradition at the center of the Islamic experience, Sharīʿa Scripts is a work of historical anthropology focused on Yemen in the early twentieth century. There—while colonial regimes, late Ottoman reformers, and early nationalists wrought decisive changes to the legal status of the sharīʿa, significantly narrowing its sphere of relevance—the Zaydī school of jurisprudence, rooted in highland Yemen for a millennium, still held sway.
Safwan M. Masri, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development and author of Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly, comments on the present situation in Tunisia, to offer his perspective on how recent demonstrations in Tunisia may be contextualized, and to counter assertions that they are a reprise of the 2011 revolutionary moment.
MEI Faculty Dagmar A. Riedel, currently Marie Curie Fellow at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid, is co-organizing with Benito Rial Costas (UCM) an interdisciplinary workshop on literature on prophets and saints in medieval and early modern Iberia. The workshop will take place in Madrid (Spain), on Thursday and Friday, 22-23 February 2018. For more information about the program, see https://researchblogs.cul.columbia.edu/islamicbooks/mashqi/
We are pleased to welcome Anaheed Al-Hardan to Columbia University as the Arcapita Visiting Professor for the Spring 2018 semester. Anaheed Al-Hardan comes to us from the American University of Beirut where she is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies.
Columbia University Libraries is proud to be a partner recipient of a $500,000 grant to support the digitization of Islamic manuscripts and paintings dating from 1000 to 1900. The Manuscripts of the Muslim World project—supported by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), which is made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—will provide digital access to 576 Islamic manuscripts and 827 paintings that have previously been largely invisible to scholars. The project will begin in April 2018 and continue for three years.
The GSAS Internal Fellowship Application is now available online.
Students may use this online application for six fellowships administered by GSAS.