Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Current Visiting Scholars

Elif Zeynep Yilmaz

Elif Zeynep Yilmaz is currently a short term Visiting Scholar at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University. She is currently an M.A. student in the Islamic History department of Istanbul Universty’s Faculty of Theology. During her time at the Center, Yilmaz will be conducting research for a new project, titled “Religious Conversions: The Social, Economic and Psychological Reasons and the Services Provided for the Converts.’’

Seyed Mohammad Ali Taghavi

Seyed Mohammad Ali Taghavi is currently a Visiting Scholar at Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran. He received his BA and MA from Tehran University and his PhD from the University of Hull, the UK. His research interests are: Islamic and Western political thought as well as Middle Eastern studies. His publications include The Flourishing of Islamic Reformism in Iran: Political Islamic Groups in Iran (1941-61), RoutledgeCruzon: London, 2005 and Foundations of Political Thought and Practice in Islam, Tehran: SAMT (The Centre for Researching and Composing University Textbooks in the Humanities), 2013 (in Persian). He recently published a piece titled, "Sectarian Conflict Among Muslims and the Need for Political Recognition of Differences" on the Ali Vural Ak Center's online publication, Maydan.

Sami Erdem

Sami Erdem is an Associate Professor in the Islamic Law department of Marmara University’s Faculty of Theology, Istanbul and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies. During his time at the Center, Erdem will be conducting research for a new project, titled “Perceptions of the Mecelle (Ottoman Civil Code) Through a Study of English Literature.” His academic interests include late Ottoman law, Mecelle, codification of Islamic law in 19th and 20th centuries, caliphate, ijtihad and fatwa in modern times.

Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies and an instructor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at George Mason University. During his time at the Center, Taylor was working on a book manuscript, titled "Islamic Humanitarianism in Today's India: Civic Charity, Religious Revival, and the Governance of India's Muslim Majority". Taylor presented his research at Mason with a talk titled, "Islamic Charity in India Today: The Revival and Re-Invention of Zakat in a Liberalizing Economy".

David Montgomery

David W. Montgomery is the Director of Program Development for CEDAR--Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion; an American Association for the Advancement of Science Policy Fellow; Associate with the Central Asia Program at George Washington University; and Research Associate with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. He has conducted long-term anthropological field research in Central Asia and the Balkans, where his work focuses on the transmission of religious and cultural knowledge; the expressions of everyday religious life; and the social aspects of religious change. He has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Emory University, and Boston University. His publications include: Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World (2015, University of California Press, coauthored with Adam Seligman and Rahel Wasserfall); Practicing Islam: Knowledge, Experience, and Social Navigation in Kyrgyzstan (forthcoming, University of Pittsburgh Press); Negotiating Well-being in Central Asia (2013, editor; special issue of Central Asian Survey); and The Politics of Well-being in Central Asia (2015, editor; special issue of Central Asian Affairs).

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