Fall 2014


Tuesday Sept. 16, 12:00pm, Research Hall Room 163

Denise Spellberg (University of Texas-Austin) - Book Discussion on Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an: Islam and the Founders

In Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders, Spellberg, a professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, reveals how Jefferson’s interest in Islam in played a pivotal role in the development of the United States—with Jefferson drawing upon Enlightenment ideas about the toleration of Muslims to fashion a practical foundation for governance in America.

Held as part of Fall for the Book 2014  Read More


Thursday Sept. 25, 4:30pm, Research Hall Room 163

Abdulaziz Sachedina (IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies, George Mason University) - "The Future of Pluralism in Iraq"

Prof. Sachedina reflects on his recent visit to Iraq and his conversations with religious leaders in the country to shed light on the sectarian divisions within Iraqi politics.


Monday Oct. 6, 5:00pm, Johnson Center Room A

Juan Cole (University of Michigan) - "Sectarianism or Class Conflict? The ISIL Crisis"

Media depictions of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and its capture of northern and western Iraq have misinterpreted what happened. Mosul, Tikrit and other largely Sunni Arab areas were not conquered by a few thousand fighters-- rather were a series of regional and urban revolts in coalition with ISIL against the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Army and state. But were the discontents really religious? Or was this urban revolt largely economic and political in character, a marriage of convenience with ISIL rather than ideological turning point?  Read More


Thursday Oct. 30, 5:30pm, Johnson Center Room G

Paul Lubeck (Johns Hopkins University-SAIS) - "Explaining the Boko Haram Insurgency: Globalization, Demography, and Elite Fragmentation"

Dr. Lubeck discusses the structural and discursive forces driving Boko Haram in Nigeria, and how the convergence of these factors has shaped the country's current political landscape. Read More 


Thursday Nov. 13, 12:00pm, Johnson Center Gold Room (Ground Floor)

Seyfi Kenan (Marmara University and Koç University-RCAC) - "Education, Administrative Discipline, and the Rise of the Modern State in the Ottoman Empire"

Dr. Kenan's lecture is based on his current research that investigates the formation of the modern state during the late Ottoman period with a focus on such institutional traits as rationalism, public service, inspection and control in the field of education. Read More


Thursday Nov. 20, 3:00pm, Research Hall Room 163

Ahmed El Shamsy (University of Chicago) - "Islamic Law in Social Context: The Case of Early Islamic Egypt"

The relationship between societies and their laws is complex. Legal doctrines do not develop in a vacuum: they emerge in particular historical circumstances and appeal to particular social constituencies for a range of different reasons. The fortunes of the doctrines’ adherents, in turn, have a decisive influence on the trajectory of legal discourse and scholarship. This lecture draws out these interconnections between the realms of law, society, and politics in the case of ninth-century Egypt in order to show that the history of law is not peripheral to or divorced from the “real history” of sociopolitical processes.  Read More


Wednesday Dec. 3, 3:00pm, Johnson Center Room F (3rd Floor)

Shabana Mir (Millikin University) - Book Discussion on Muslim American Women on Campus: Undergraduate Social Life and Identity

Shabana Mir's powerful ethnographic study of women on Washington, D.C., college campuses reveals that being a young female Muslim in post-9/11 America means experiencing double scrutiny—scrutiny from the Muslim community as well as from the dominant non-Muslim community. Muslim American Women on Campus illuminates the processes by which a group of ethnically diverse American college women, all identifying as Muslim and all raised in the United States, construct their identities during one of the most formative times in their lives.  Read More