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February 6, 2017. This talk explored—in the context of Islamic West Africa—these two primary (and inter-related) senses of the meaning of the word ‘visionary’: a person who experiences ‘visions’ in dreams, trances, and waking states and a person who provides inspirational leadership for social change. In short, it is an examination of the relationship between the ‘extra-sensory’ sensorium of religious experiences and social action in the Islamic tradition of the African West. For visionary African Muslims, 'visions' were often more real than reality itself and thus had the capacity to transform it. But these visions were not limited to seeing; they were also experiences of sound and smell, touch and taste. The English language—which favors sight among its five culturally constructed senses—offers no better word to describe such all-encompassing sensory experiences than ‘vision.’

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February 1, 2017. This talk examined how Muslim French – i.e. those committed to practicing Islam as French citizens and practicing citizenship as pious Muslims – negotiate a social and political world in which they are imagined, a priori, as always already not-French because they are Muslim. It explored how this impasse is not only lived but also challenged by a post-immigration generation of Muslim civic activists. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with these activists, the talk reflected on new forms of public religiosity, national citizenship, and political possibility.

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February 1, 2017. This talk examined how Muslim French – i.e. those committed to practicing Islam as French citizens and practicing citizenship as pious Muslims – negotiate a social and political world in which they are imagined, a priori, as always already not-French because they are Muslim. It explored how this impasse is not only lived but also challenged by a post-immigration generation of Muslim civic activists. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with these activists, the talk reflected on new forms of public religiosity, national citizenship, and political possibility.

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January 25, 2017. In the last two decades, the role of religion in international affairs has become more prominent, and has attracted the academia’s and publics’ attention. However, many questions regarding how and why religion influences international relations remain unanswered. Is religion a motivation for action by state and non-state actors or merely a justification? Which actors are more influenced by religion? In what ways does religion influence international relations? In her latest book God on Our Side: Religion in International Affairs Dr. Shireen Hunter looks into these questions and tries to explain why and how religion affects international relations. By using three case studies-Russia’s Policy towards the Bosnia War, Turkey’s Policy towards the Bosnia War, and the European Union’s policy towards Turkey’s membership in the EU, Dr. Hunter demonstrated how, why, when and through what channels religion most influences international relations.

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December 7, 2016. Co-sponsored with the Bridge Initiative. Innocent Muslim Americans are a casualty of the war on terror. They are regularly targeted by abusive and overreaching counter-terrorism programs including countering violent extremism initiatives, watchlists, and suspicious activity reporting. They likewise endure disproportionate surveillance and profiling by national intelligence agencies and law enforcement. We spy on the many to catch the few. We target based on faith, not evidence of wrongdoing. This talk explored these abusive practices and discussed efforts underway to curb them.

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December 1, 2016. This talk argued that it is crucial to understand and critique the phenomenon of ISIS from within Islamic tradition, and explored its meaning for the history and future of Islam. This requires us to mobilize the disciplines of usul al-fiqh, theology, and history, and to dismantle simplistic but widespread answers that cloud meaningful understanding and response.

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November 14, 2016. Cosponsored with the Department of Theology and the Berkley Center. The position of Jesus in the Qur’an is among the most contentious areas in Muslim-Christian dialogue. Many Christian scholars think that the verses on Jesus in the Qur'an are not acceptable and show that the Qur'an cannot be the word of God. Many Muslim scholars think that Christian adoration of Jesus is idolatrous. Khorchide and von Stosch, part of a research project on the subject sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Association), argue that a close reading of the verses of the Qur'an in their historical setting can help Christians and Muslims appreciate each others’ positions. 

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November 14, 2016. Cosponsored with the Department of Theology and the Berkley Center. The position of Jesus in the Qur’an is among the most contentious areas in Muslim-Christian dialogue. Many Christian scholars think that the verses on Jesus in the Qur'an are not acceptable and show that the Qur'an cannot be the word of God. Many Muslim scholars think that Christian adoration of Jesus is idolatrous. Khorchide and von Stosch, part of a research project on the subject sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Association), argue that a close reading of the verses of the Qur'an in their historical setting can help Christians and Muslims appreciate each others’ positions. 

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October 19, 2016—briefing: “Islamophobia as Ideology of Empire” with Arun Kundnani. Cosponsored with The Bridge Initiative and the Berkley Center. Is Islamophobia a form of racism? If so, how does it relate to the broader history of racisms? Drawing on the work of Frantz Fanon and Stuart Hall, Islamophobia is here analyzed as a lay ideology that offers an everyday “common sense” explanatory framework for making sense of mediated crisis events (such as terrorist attacks) in ways that disavow those events’ political meanings (rooted in empire, racism, and resistance) and instead explain them as products of a reified “Muslimness.” Thus Islamophobia involves an ideological displacement of political antagonisms onto the plane of culture, where they can be explained in terms of the fixed nature of the “Other.” This maneuver is also an act of projection in the psychoanalytic sense: the violence upon which US-led capitalism depends cannot be acknowledged in a nominally liberal society so it is transferred onto the personality of the Muslim and seen as emanating from “outside” the social order.

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October 12, 2016—briefing: “Only Women Understand Women!” – Muslim Female Preachers Claiming Religious Authority in Contemporary Malaysia" with Norbani Ismail. During the past two decades, Malaysian Muslim female preachers have gained access to opportunity and spaces in preaching Islam to the public. Their preaching activism, both through the mass media and the public podiums, is seemingly an indication of a shift in knowledge construction and diffusion, and the meaning of religious authority in contemporary Islamic discourse in Malaysia. They have gained trust from the public and become authoritative voice of Islam through acquired knowledge in fundamental texts of Islam. To claim the spaces in preaching, the female preachers have mastered the skills such as Arabic language, memorization of religious texts and public speaking. Just like the men preachers, they have dedicated their works towards creating a sound moral and ethical society based on Islamic framework. They preach to the public on various issues: moral-spiritual endeavors, socio-religious advices and practices, marital and family relations, and on events based on Islamic calendar. Nevertheless, the female preachers have to navigate their activism within the confines of expected social norms and of the highly-bureaucratized religious authority and administration. By adhering to social expectations and religious orthodoxy, the female preachers are able to continue preaching to the public, as well as to build the trust with both the established religious authority and the public.

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