Race and Islam: Global Histories, Contemporary Legacies

AVAGIS 2022 Annual Conference

March 23, 2022, 9:00 AM to March 24, 2022, 5:00 PM EDT
Zoom Virtual Event

The Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University is organizing an online conference on Race and Islam on March 23 and March 24, 2022. The conference aims to treat the subject through a set of broad, cross-disciplinary conversations exploring the full range of intersections between race, Islam, and Muslim experience.

Recent events in the United States have led to a renewed focus in public discourse on the socially embedded legacies of race and racialization. These legacies, however, are byproducts of a much broader global history—one moreover in which Islam has had a consistent role and presence. Race, racism, and racialization have been problematized, defined, and redefined in changing contexts by multiple subject positions, and simultaneously articulated, confronted, and absorbed across various media, institutions and communities. The intersectionality of race with constructs of gender, justice, equality, freedom, faith, ethnicity, and identity has refocused attention on race as a defining theme of academic research, political deliberation, cultural production, and public discourse.

Conference Logo

Islam as a faith tradition, both in its historical and contemporary manifestation, has been intricately intertwined with the question of race. While Islam has been subject to objectification and racialization, the lived experiences of Muslims reflect a mixture of indigenous, historical, and modern adaptations of racial categories. The conference, therefore, aims to explore not just how Islam—either scripturally or culturally—responds to questions of race, as has often been done, but also the ways Islam, as a faith tradition, has encountered, engaged with, and reflected particular understandings and experiences of race (not least of all through Islam’s own history with racialized slavery). Cognizant of recent processes through which Muslimness has become subject to racialization, one of the underlying questions of the conference will be how being or becoming a Muslim has been defined and constructed vis-à-vis particular racial discourses and praxes.

Conference Program

Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM EDT

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Opening Remarks

Peter Mandaville, George Mason University

Huseyin Yilmaz, George Mason University

9:15 AM - 10:45 AM

Panel I. Islamic Disciplines and History

Chair: Mohammad Ramadan Salama

Jonathan Brown, Georgetown University
Antiblackness in Islamic Marriage Law: Custom as the Problem, Custom as the Solution

Bernard K. Freamon, Seton Hall University
Islamic Jurisprudence and Critical Race Theory

Touria Khannous, Louisiana State University
In Defense of Blackness: Patterns of Argumentation in Al-Jahiz’ Fakhr Al-Sudan-Ala-Al-Baydan

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM


11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Keynote Address:

Sahar Aziz, Rutgers University
Global Islamophobia and the Racial Muslim

12:30 PM - 12:45 PM


12:00 PM - 1:30 PM 

Panel II. East Africa and The Arabian Peninsula

Chair: Sumaiya Hamdani 

Ahmed Ali Salem, Zayed University
Africanized Arab and Arabized African Muslims: Reflections on the Historiography of the Sultanate of Zanzibar

Dalal Daoud, George Mason University
The Islamist Approach to Minorities in Sudan: the South Sudanese and Darfuris

Ameen Omar, Hamad Bin Khalifa University
After Emancipation: The Legacy of Slavery and Racism in the Gulf

1:30 PM - 1:45 PM


1:45 PM - 3:45 PM

Panel III. Africa

Chair: Ahmet Selim Tekelioğlu 

Naglaa Hussein, George Mason University
Nubians and the disconnection of Egypt from the African continent  

Ayşe Çırçır, Erzurum Technical University
Biopolitics, Islam and Slavery in Najwa bin Shawtan’s The Slave Yards (2020)

Olfa Zairi, The University of Gabes
Why Has it Taken so Long? Tunisia from the Abolition of Slavery to the Removal of Slave Names

Fouad Gehad Marei, University of Birmingham
Shabīh-i Joon (or, Nigeria, Where Bilal meets Husayn): Race, Redemptive Suffering, and Affect in Shi‘i Devotional Poetry

Thursday, March 24, 2022, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM EDT

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Panel IV. Asia

Chair: Maria Dakake

Jing Wang, University of Pennsylvania
Can comedy be racist?: The Logics of Racial Impersonation of Uyghur Muslims in Post-Mao China

Hew Wai Weng, National University of Malaysia
Sites of Inclusion and Exclusion: Multiple Intersections between Race and Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia 

Matthew Bowser, Tufts University
Islam and Race in Myanmar: The Racialization of the Rohingya

Ruslan Yusupov, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Regarding the Difference of Others: Interethnic Family Life in Contemporary Xinjiang, China 

11:00 AM - 11:15 AM


11:15 AM - 12:45 PM

Keynote Adress:

Su'ad Abdul Khabeer, University of Michigan
Can We Really Talk about Race and Islam or Will Scholars Keep Fronting?

12:45 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Panel V. Europe

Chair: Nathaniel Greenberg 

Jeta Luboteni, Boston University
Unapologetically, Imperfectly, Muslim: Race and Islam in the Music of Azet

Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska & Ewa Górska, Warsaw School of Economics
Problematising anti-Muslim Racism in the East-West Nexus. The Case of Poland

Naveed Shahzad Sheikh, Keele University
Race & Radicalism: The Problem of the Muslim Terrorist in British Counter-Terrorism Legislation

2:30 PM- 2:45 PM


2:45 PM - 4:15 PM

Panel VI. America

Chair: Yasemin İpek

Tazeen M. Ali, Washington University in Saint Louis
Politics, Sex, and American Islam in Hulu’s Ramy: Beyond Racialized and Gendered Islamophobia in US Popular Media

Michael D. Gutzler, Northern Virginia Community College
Uncovering Muslim Communities in the Antebellum American South  

Nazita Lajaverdi, Michigan State University
The Influence of American Identity on Anti-Muslim Policy Preferences Across Partisans

4:15 PM - 4:30 PM


4:30 PM -5:00 PM

Plenary Session

Closing Remarks


Sponsored by
The Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, and The Maydan with generous support from the IIIT Initiative on Global Muslim Thought and Society and the Center for Islam in the Contemporary World (CICW) at Shenandoah University.


AVACGIS 2022 Annual Conference Flyer

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