New Books in Islamic Studies podcast

Susanna Fioratta, "Global Nomads: An Ethnography of Migration, Islam, and Politics" (Oxford UP, 2020)

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Countering the traditional narrative of "migration as crisis," Global Nomads tells the story of a group of people for whom migration is not a symptom of a disordered world, but rather an ordinary practice full of social and personal meaning. Decentering migration from North America and Europe, this ethnography explores how ethnic Fulbe people in the West African Republic of Guinea migrate abroad to seek their fortunes and fulfill their responsibilities--and in the process, securing a place at home.  Based on twenty-three months of ethnographic research, Global Nomads: An Ethnography of Migration, Islam, and Politics in West Africa (Oxford UP, 2020) investigates how mobility abroad shapes belonging at home and shows that political and economic motivations to migrate are important in Guinea, as elsewhere--but they are only part of the story. Family and community expectations, cultural ideals of work, notions of gender, and religious piety all come into play when people dream of going abroad and when they contemplate coming home again. Ultimately, Global Nomads shows how understandings of the past and its connections to the present--of what being a respectable person entails, of individual responsibilities to a larger community--all shape how people live in contexts of insecurity. Dr. Sara Katz is a postdoctoral associate in the history department at Duke University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

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    Nicole Nguyen, "Suspect Communities: Anti-Muslim Racism and the Domestic War on Terror" (U Minnesota Press, 2019)


    Suspect Communities: Anti-Muslim Racism and the Domestic War on Terror (University of Minnesota Press, 2019) is a powerful reassessment of the U.S. government’s “countering violent extremism” (CVE) program that has arisen in major cities across the United States since 2011. Drawing on an interpretive qualitative study, Nicole Nguyen, Associate Professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, examines how the concept behind CVE—aimed at combating homegrown terrorism by engaging Muslim community members, teachers, and religious leaders in monitoring and reporting on young people—has been operationalized through the everyday work of CVE actors, from high-level national security workers to local community members, with significant penalties for the communities themselves. By undertaking this analysis, Nicole Nguyen offers a vital window into the inner workings of the U.S. security state and the devastating impact of the CVE program on local communities. In our conversation we discussed counterterrorism policy, radicalization theories, national security trainings and conferences, the difference between anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia, public objections to CVE, activist resistance, how and why Muslims participate in policing communities, targeting Muslim youth, and the role of schools and teachers. Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Jeffrey Guhin, "Agents of God: Boundaries and Authority in Muslim and Christian Schools" (Oxford UP, 2020)


    Jeff Guhin joins us today to talk about his book Agents of God: Boundaries and Authority in Muslim and Christian Schools (Oxford University Press, 2020). Jeff, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UCLA, shares with us how his experiences with religious schooling shaped his interests in education, culture and religion. Agents of God is the culmination of Jeff’s dissertation work while he was a doctoral student in Sociology at Yale University, a thoughtful comparative ethnography of Muslim and Conservative Protestant high schools. In today’s conversation we explore the nuances of religious education, how people negotiate boundaries and the agentification of institutions. We also discuss the politics of national identity and the role of schools in this nationalization. Jeff also touches on his experiences with mental health and how he works to navigate those within academia and in the process of writing this book. This book provides a compelling lens for how to understand the forces of Science, Scripture and Prayer as “external authorities” that shape individual and national behavior. Nafeesa Andrabi is a 4th year Sociology PhD student at UNC-Chapel Hill, a Biosocial Fellow at Carolina Population Center and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Christopher Coker, "The Rise of the Civilizational State" (Polity Press, 2019)


    In recent years the resurgence of great power competition has gripped the headlines, with new emerging powers (such as Russia and China) seeking to challenge the American and Western hegemony that has prevailed since the end of the Cold War. While the geopolitics of the Cold War era were based on ideology, the current geopolitics appear to be based more on cultural and civilizational identities. In his pioneering book The Rise of the Civilizational State (Polity Press, 2019), renowned political philosopher Christopher Coker examines in depth how Xi Jinping’s China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia not only seek to challenge Western powers, but also operate under very different conceptions of how the world should be structured. Instead of the standard nation-state and liberal internationalism that Western power operate under, both powers insist more on the civilizational basis of both the state and world order. Christopher Coker is Director of the London School of Economics’ foreign policy think tank LSE Ideas. He was Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, retiring in 2019. He is a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, a former NATO Fellow and a regular lecturer at Defense Colleges in the United Kingdom, United States, Rome, Singapore, Tokyo, Norway and Sweden. Stephen Satkiewicz is independent scholar whose research areas are related to Civilizational Analysis, Big History, Historical Sociology, War studies, as well as Russian and East European history. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Rose Wellman, "Feeding Iran: Shi`i Families and the Making of the Islamic Republic" (U California Press, 2021)


    Since Iran's 1979 Revolution, the imperative to create and protect the inner purity of family and nation in the face of outside spiritual corruption has been a driving force in national politics. Through extensive fieldwork, Rose Wellman examines how Basiji families, as members of Iran's voluntary paramilitary organization, are encountering, enacting, and challenging this imperative. Her ethnography reveals how families and state elites are employing blood, food, and prayer in commemorations for martyrs in Islamic national rituals to create citizens who embody familial piety, purity, and closeness to God. Feeding Iran: Shi’i Families and the Making of the Islamic Republic (U California Press, 2021) provides a rare and humanistic account of religion and family life in the post-revolutionary Islamic Republic that examines how home life and everyday piety are linked to state power. Rose Wellman is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She specializes in Iran and the Middle East. Amir Sayadabdi is a lecturer in Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington. He is mainly interested in anthropology of food and its intersection with gender studies, migration studies, and studies of race, ethnicity, and nationalism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Sana Haroon, "Mosques of Colonial South Asia: A Social and Legal History of Muslim Worship" (I. B. Tauris, 2021)


    In her multilayered and thoroughly researched new book The Mosques of Colonial South Asia: A Social and Legal History of Muslim Worship (I. B. Tauris, 2021), Sana Haroon examines the interaction and intersection of varied legal regimes, devotional practices, and conceptions of sacred space invested in the institution and structure of the mosque in South Asia. This book combinies dense yet markedly accessible archival research with the close reading of a range of texts and legal/political strivings of a range of previously unexplored actors, including prayer leaders, scholars, mosque managers, lawyers, colonial magistrates, and local notables. Through this exercise, Haroon documents in vivid detail the aspirations and ambiguities that drove a variety of claims over the meaning and place of the mosque in South Asian Islam and Muslim identity during the colonial moment fraught with vigorous intra-Muslim and interreligious contestations over this question. Lucidly composed and theoretically invasive, this book is sure to spark important conversations among scholars from a range of academic fields and disciplines. SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 American Academy of Religion Book Award. His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at [email protected] Listener feedback is most welcome. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Yair Wallach, "A City in Fragments: Urban Texts in Modern Jerusalem" (Stanford UP, 2020)


    In the mid-nineteenth century, Jerusalem was rich with urban texts inscribed in marble, gold, and cloth, investing holy sites with divine meaning. Ottoman modernization and British colonial rule transformed the city; new texts became a key means to organize society and subjectivity. Stone inscriptions, pilgrims' graffiti, and sacred banners gave way to street markers, shop signs, identity papers, and visiting cards that each sought to define and categorize urban space and people. A City in Fragments: Urban Texts in Modern Jerusalem (Stanford UP, 2020) tells the modern history of a city overwhelmed by its religious and symbolic significance. Yair Wallach walked the streets of Jerusalem to consider the graffiti, logos, inscriptions, official signs, and ephemera that transformed the city over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As these urban texts became a tool in the service of capitalism, nationalism, and colonialism, the affinities of Arabic and Hebrew were forgotten and these sister-languages found themselves locked in a bitter war. Looking at the writing of—and literally on—Jerusalem, Wallach offers a creative and expansive history of the city, a fresh take on modern urban texts, and a new reading of the Israel/Palestine conflict through its material culture. Avery Weinman is a PhD student in History at the University of California, Los Angeles. She researches Jewish history in the modern Middle East and North Africa, with emphasis on Sephardi and Mizrahi radicals in British Mandatory Palestine. She can be reached at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Murray Hogben, "Minarets on the Horizon: Muslim Pioneers in Canada" (Mawenzi House, 2021)


    Minarets on the Horizon: Muslim Pioneers in Canada (Mawenzi House 2021) by Murray Hogben is an incredible archive of some of the early Muslim settlers in Canada. The book is a collection of wonderful oral histories of the early Muslims and their descendants from the east to the west coast of Canada. Be they the settlers from Syria/Lebanon or Punjabi men who worked in timber mills of British Columbia, to those who migrated later in the 20th century as a result of the changes to the Canadian immigration law, such as South Asian Muslims, Hogben captures the trials and tribulations of migration, and the challenges of adapting religious and cultural practices as minorities in a new nation state. Central are the voices of Muslim women, such as Hilwie Hamdon, who led the way to building the first mosque in Canada, the al-Rashid masjid, in Edmonton, while stories of inter-religious friendships abound through the early formation of the Muslim communities across Canada. This is an important book that adds deep texture to our understanding of the history of Islam in Canada and will be of interest to anyone who thinks and writes about Muslims in Canada and in the global west, generally. Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Justin K. Stearns, "Revealed Sciences: The Natural Sciences in Islam in Seventeenth-Century Morocco" (Cambridge UP, 2021)


    Islam's contributions to the natural sciences has long been recognized within the Euro-American academy, however, such studies tend to include one of a number of narrative tropes, either emphasizing the "Golden Age" model, focusing on scientific productions in Baghdad and other centers around the first millennium CE; emphasizing Islam's role in transmitting and preserving Greco-Roman learning, and enabling it to be re-translated into Latin around the time of the Renaissance; and the vast majority suggest that the majority of Islamic scientific output came to a halt around toward the end 16th century. In Revealed Sciences: The Natural Sciences in Islam in Seventeenth-Century Morocco (Cambridge UP, 2021), Justin K. Stearns argues that there is ample evidence that scientific production continued apace, if, in fact, we know where to look for it. Demonstrating the vibrancy of seventeenth century Morocco, Revealed Sciences examines how science flourished during this period, albeit in a different manner than that of Europe. Offering an innovative analysis of the relationship between religious thought and the natural sciences, Stearns shows how nineteenth and twentieth century European and Middle Eastern scholars jointly developed a narrative of the decline of post-formative Islamic thought, including the fate of the natural sciences in the Muslim world. Challenging these depictions, Stearns uses numerous close readings of legal, biographical, and classificatory texts - alongside medical, astronomical, and alchemical works - to establish a detailed overview of the place of the natural sciences in the scholarly and educational landscapes of the early modern Maghreb, and considers non-teleological possibilities for understanding a persistent engagement with the natural sciences in Morocco and elsewhere. Justin K. Stearns is Associate Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi, where his research interests focus on the intersection of law, science, and theology in the pre-modern Middle East. He is the author of Infectious Ideas: Contagion in Premodern Islamic and Christian Thought in the Western Mediterranean (2011), and an edition and translation of al-Hasan al-Yusi's The Discourses, Vol. I (2020). Christopher S. Rose is a social historian of medicine focusing on Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean in the 19th and 20th century. He currently teaches History at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas and Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Simon O'Meara, "The Ka'ba Orientations: Readings in Islam's Ancient House" (Edinburgh UP, 2020)


    The Kaʿba is the famous cuboid structure at the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca. In his book The Kaʿba Orientations: Readings in Islam's Ancient House (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), Simon O'Meara (SOAS) looks at the way Muslims from the beginnings of Islam to the 18th century engaged with the existence of such a structure, as a location, as an architectural object, as a direction, as a focus of devotion and prayer. He studies both material and visual as well as literary engagements through which Muslims pilgrims and scholars interpreted their own place in the world in relation to a location held to be the world's axis, and the consequences from a religious and psychological perspective of the often fraught and violent history of the built structure itself, its uses, and the emotional connection that millions of Muslims continue to feel towards it to this day. Miguel Monteiro is a PhD student in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University. Twitter @anphph Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
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    Nada Moumtaz, "God’s Property: Islam, Charity, and the Modern State" (U California Press, 2021)


    Nada Moumtaz’s God’s Property: Islam, Charity, and the Modern State (University of California Press, 2021) is an ethnography anchored in deep study of the Muslim scholarly tradition, the urban landscape, and Lebanon across the Ottoman, Mandate, and post-independence periods. At the center of the book is the waqf, often translated as “pious endowment.” An act and a practice exhibiting or embodying both change and stability since the nineteenth century, the waqf allows Moumtaz to reinterpret major categories in anthropology, Islamic legal studies, and history, including charity, family, the economy, the public and private, and the state. This is the second New Books Network interview devoted to this much-anticipated book, a careful, wide-ranging, and ambitious work poised to influence conversations in multiple disciplines. Interviewers: Janna Aladdin and Julian Weideman. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!

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