Past Events


Townhall Discussion with Mason Faculty

Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Discrimination in the Name of Religion

Thursday, December 6, 2018 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM The Hub (SUB II), 3 & 4

Mason faculty discuss current issues on antisemitism, Islamophobia and discrimination. Open to the public and campus community. Faculty participants include: Maria Dakake (Religious Studies), Brian Platt (History), Huseyin Yilmaz (History & AVACGIS Director), Hatim El-Hibri (Film & Media, English), Noura Erakat (Integrative Studies), Amy Best (Sociology & Anthropology), Marc Gopin (CWRDC), and Lisa Breglia (Global Affairs).

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Memory, Migration and Resistance: Narratives of Syrian Refugee Women in Turkey and Syria

Lecture by Dr. Senay Ozden

Thursday, December 6, 2018 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Johnson Center, Bistro

Syrian refugees are often portrayed simply as either victims of a war or victims of host states' refugee policies. Dr. Ozden's research, however focuses on Syrian refugee womens' life stories in the pre and post uprising periods with the purpose of understanding the social and political contexts that led to the Syrian uprising in 2011. Therefore, instead of treating refugee life in isolation from pre-2011 contexts, she restores Syrian women's political and social agencies in the refugee narratives. Şenay Özden is a cultural anthroplogist from Turkey. Her research areas include international migration, refugees, Turkish state’s refugee policies, and politics of humanitarian aid. She has numerous articles, reports published on Syrian refugees in Turkey, and hosts a weekly radio program in Turkey about Syrian refugees. She has taught at various universities in Damascus and Istanbul. She is one of the founders of the Syrian Cultural House in Istanbul, Hamisch, which aims to bring together researchers and writers from Syria and Turkey.

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CANCELLED- Unpacking Sectarianism in Contemporary Lebanon: A Critical Ethnographic Study

Lecture by Dr. Yasemin Ipek

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Dr. Yasemin Ipek will discuss how different communities in Lebanon talk about and problematize sectarianism, based on ethnographic research she conducted between 2012 and 2015. She will unpack competing local discourses on sectarianism and nationalism by examining how rival political communities and individuals blame each other for the sectarianism of the “Lebanese.” Attending to how discourses on sectarianism and nationalism are deployed in order to make competing ethical claims to citizenship, identity, belonging, and social change, Ipek will show how public debates around sectarianism could inform us on broader negotiations of social difference structured around class, urbanity, religiosity, gender, and generation. Dr. Ipek is Assistant Professor in the Global Affairs Program at George Mason University. She received her Ph.D. degree in Anthropology from Stanford University, California. She received a second doctoral degree from Bilkent University in the Department of Political Science in Turkey. Dr. Ipek teaches courses on globalization, anthropology of the Middle East, refugees and humanitarianism, youth activism, social movements and qualitative research methods. Her work has appeared in several peer-reviewed journals.

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Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab

Lecture by Dr. Kristian Petersen

Thursday, November 1, 2018 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM Johnson Center, Room G

A distinctive Chinese Islamic intellectual tradition emerged during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Chinese Muslims established an educational system, scripture hall education (jingtang jiaoyu 經堂教育), which utilized an Islamic curriculum made up of Arabic, Persian, and Chinese works. The Han Kitab, a corpus of Chinese language Islamic texts developed within this system, reinterpreted Islam through the religiophilosophical lens of Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian terminology. Several Han Kitab texts were produced by a group of self-identified “Confucian Muslim” scholars (Huiru 回儒). This presentation traces the contours of the Sino-Islamic intellectual tradition and serves as an introduction to Kristian Petersen’s book, Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). Dr. Kristian Petersen is Assistant Professor at Old Dominion University in the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies. In addition to his featured book, he is currently working on a monograph entitled, "The Cinematic Lives of Muslims". He is also host of the New Books in Religion series and New Books in Islamic Studies podcasts.

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Fall for the Book Festival presents "Erasing Syria: The Home That Was Our Country" by author Alia Malek

A Memoir

Friday, October 12, 2018 12:00 PM Research Hall, 163

The Home That Was Our Country is a deeply researched, personal journey that shines a delicate but piercing light on Syrian history, society, and politics. Teeming with insights, the narrative weaves acute political analysis with a century of intimate family history, delivering an unforgettable portrait of the Syria that is being erased. At the Arab Spring's hopeful start, Alia Malek returned to Damascus to reclaim her grandmother's apartment, which had been lost to her family since Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970. Its loss was central to her parent's decision to make their lives in America. In chronicling the people who lived in the Tahaan building, past and present, Alia portrays the Syrians--the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Armenians, and Kurds--who worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters, mirroring the political shifts in their country. Restoring her family's home as the country comes apart, she learns how to speak the coded language of oppression that exists in a dictatorship, while privately confronting her own fears about Syria's future.

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Second Annual Book Review Colloquium on Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, "Islam in Modern Regional Contexts"

Thursday, October 11, 2018 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM Johnson Center, Meeting Room E

The Second Annual Book Review Colloquium invites graduate students from national institutions to review the most recent publications in the broader field of Islamic Studies. The day long colloquium features three panels focused on the theme of "Islam in Modern Regional Contexts". Sponsored by Fall for the Book Festival.

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Filmaker, Tamer El-Said presents, "In the Last Days of the City" Screening & Discussion

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 7:30 PM Johnson Center, Cinema

In downtown Cairo in 2009, Khalid (Khalid Abdalla), a 35-year-old filmmaker struggles to make a film that captures the soul of his city while facing loss in his own life. With the help of his friends who send him footage from their lives in Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin, he finds the strength to keep going through the difficulty and beauty of living in Cairo. More information at

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Fall for the Book Festival presents, "The Ottoman Caliphate's Mystical Turn" by Dr. Husyein Yilmaz

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 10:30 AM Johnson Center, Room F

Dr. Huseyin Yilmaz in his recent book, "Caliphate Redefined: The Mystical Turn in Ottoman Political Tradition", traces how the Ottomans redefined the caliphate to be at once ruler, spiritual guide, and lawmaker corresponding to the three natures of the Prophet Muhammad. "A masterful work of scholarship, "Caliphate Redefined" is the first comprehensive study of premodern Ottoman political thought to offer an extensive analysis of a wealth of previously unstudied texts in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish."

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AVACGIS Visiting Scholar Brown Bag Series

Presented by Dr. Ali Yousofi, Ferdowsi University, Mashad, Iran

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Johnson Center, Room F

Dr. Yousofi presents his research findings about Islam and democracy. He maintains that both the concepts of Islam and democracy are interpretable and will in practice lead to a variety of religiosities and democratic attitudes. The religion of Islam plays a central role in the social life of Muslim societies and each type of religiosity offers a different interpretation of democracy. The main hypothesis of his research is that only some perceptions of Islam (religiosity) are compatible with some perceptions of democracy (democratic attitudes), but that some perceptions of each of them are incompatible with one another. The results of this research will be published as a book with the support of the Center. Refreshments will be served.

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