New Books In Islamic Studies

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Synopsis

Interviews with Scholars of Islam about their New Books

Episodes

  • Chiara Formichi, Islam and Asia: A History (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Chiara Formichi, "Islam and Asia: A History" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    30/05/2020 Duration: 01h09min

    Challenging the geographical narrative of the history of Islam, Chiara Formichi’s new book Islam and Asia: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2020), helps us to rethink how we tell the story of Islam and the lived expressions of Muslims without privileging certain linguistic, cultural, and geographic realities. Focusing on themes of reform, political Islamism, Sufism, gender, as well as a rich array of material culture (such as sacred spaces and art), the book maps the development of Islam in Asia, such as in Kashmir, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China. It considers both transnational and transregional ebbs and flows that have defined the expansion and institutionalization of Islam in Asia, while attending to factors such as ethnicity, linguistic identity and even food cultures as important realities that have informed the translation of Islam into new regions. It is the “convergence and conversation” between the “local” and “foreign” or better yet between the theoretical notions of “centre” and “periphery” o

  • M’hamed Oualdi, A Slave between Empires: A Transimperial History of North Africa (Columbia UP, 2020)

    M’hamed Oualdi, "A Slave between Empires: A Transimperial History of North Africa" (Columbia UP, 2020)

    25/05/2020 Duration: 41min

    In light of the profound physical and mental traumas of colonization endured by North Africans, historians of recent decades have primarily concentrated their studies of North Africa on colonial violence, domination, and shock. The choice is an understandable one. But in his new monograph, A Slave between Empires: A Transimperial History of North Africa (Columbia University Press, 2020), M’hamed Oualdi asks how a history of the modern Maghreb might look if we did not perceive it solely through the prism of European colonization, and argues that widening our gaze might force us to redefine our understanding of colonialism — and its limits. As a sequel of sorts to his first book, Oualdi explores the life and afterlife of one figure, the manumitted slave and Tunisian dignitary Husayn Ibn ‘Abdallah, as an aperture through which to understand the financial, intellectual, and kinship networks that mingled with processes of colonialism and Ottoman governance in unexpected ways to produce the modern Maghreb. A master

  • Yassir Morsi, “Radical Skin, Moderate Masks: De-radicalising the Muslim and Racism in Post-racial Societies” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017)

    Yassir Morsi, “Radical Skin, Moderate Masks: De-radicalising the Muslim and Racism in Post-racial Societies” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017)

    22/05/2020 Duration: 01h17min

    Muslims living in locations like Australia, Europe, or North America exist within a context dominated by white racial norms and are forced to grapple with those conventions on a daily basis. If they succeed in meeting the presiding criterion of secular liberalism they can be dubbed a “moderate” Muslim by mainstream society. In Radical Skin, Moderate Masks: De-radicalising the Muslim and Racism in Post-racial Societies (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), Yassir Morsi, Lecturer at La Trobe University, explores these contemporary social dynamics and considers the various ways Muslims don a mask in order to navigate the expectations of the dominant society. Here he offers three paradigms, what he calls the “Fabulous Mask,” the “Militant Mask,” and the “Triumphant Mask,” that represent changing tensions for the “moderate” Muslim. Morsi deconstructs the “radical” vs. “moderate” binary through the forces of racialized structures that shape everyday life and the historical circumstances of Muslims in the “West.” This is ac

  • Jacqueline H. Fewkes, Locating Maldivian Womens Mosques in Global Discourses (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

    Jacqueline H. Fewkes, "Locating Maldivian Women's Mosques in Global Discourses" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

    15/05/2020 Duration: 01h06min

    What is a mosque? What are women's mosques specifically? What historical values do women's mosques offer, and what is the relationship between mosque spaces and women's religious work? How do women leaders themselves identify with and conceptualize their leadership roles? Why are women's mosques around the world, both historical and contemporary, omitted from both popular and scholarly discourses on women's mosques? Jacqueline Fewkes' excellent and theoretically sophisticated book, Locating Maldivian Women's Mosques in Global Discourses (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), offers answers to these questions and more. Complete with images from Fewkes' research, the book is an ethnography of women's mosques in the Maldives, an almost unheard-of phenomenon. It situates women's prayer places, the Nisha Miskiis, the physical buildings in which women lead prayers for other women, as complex sites of sociohistorical and cultural significance. Ultimately, Fewkes explores the ways in which these spaces relate to, contribute to,

  • Caleb Simmons, Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Caleb Simmons, "Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    15/05/2020 Duration: 01h01min

    In his book Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India (Oxford University Press, 2020), Caleb Simmons examines the reigns of Tipu Sultan (r. 1782-1799) and Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (r. 1799-1868) in the South Indian kingdom of Mysore to demonstrate the extent to which both rulers--one Muslim and one Hindu--turned to religion to fortify the royal identity of kings during precarious political times.  Both courts revived pre-modern notions of Indian kingship in reaction to the British, drawing on devotion to Hindu gods, goddesses, and gurus to conceptualize and fortify their reigns. We made mention of images in the interview, and they can be found here. For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Maria Rashid, Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Maria Rashid, "Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    08/05/2020 Duration: 01h08min

    In her spellbindingly brilliant new book, Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army (Stanford University Press, 2020), Maria Rashid conducts an intimate and layered ethnography of militarism and death in Pakistan, with a focus on the lives, aspirations, and tragedies of soldiers and their families in rural Punjab. How does the Pakistani military’s regulation and management of affect and emotions like grief authorize and sustain the practice of sacrificing the self in service to the nation? Rashid addresses this question through a riveting and at many times hauntingly majestic analysis of a range of themes including carefully choreographed public spectacles of mourning, military regimes of cultivating martial subjects, fissures between official scripts and unofficial unfoldings of grieving, anxieties over the representation of maimed soldiers, and ambiguities surrounding the appropriation of martyrdom (shahādat) for death on the battlefield. Theoretically incisive,

  • Ibrahim Fraihat, Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict (Edinburgh UP, 2020)

    Ibrahim Fraihat, "Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict" (Edinburgh UP, 2020)

    05/05/2020 Duration: 01h11min

    Ibrahim Fraihat’s latest book, Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) is much more than an exploration of the history of animosity between Saudi Arabia and Iran and its debilitating impact on an already volatile Middle East. It is a detailed roadmap for management and resolution of what increasingly looks like an intractable conflict. Based on years of field research, Fraihat builds a framework that initially could help Saudi Arabia and Iran prevent their conflict from spinning out of control, create mechanisms for communication and travel down a road of confidence building that could create building blocks for a resolution. Fraihat’s book could not have been published at a more critical moment. A devastating coronavirus pandemic has hit both Saudi Arabia and Iran hard. So has the associated global economic breakdown and the collapse of oil markets. The double whammies constitute the most existential crisis the kingdom has faced in at least half a century. They hit

  • Julia Stephens, “Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in Modern South Asia” (Cambridge UP, 2018)

    Julia Stephens, “Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in Modern South Asia” (Cambridge UP, 2018)

    05/05/2020 Duration: 01h10min

    As British colonial rulers expanded their control in South Asia legal resolutions were increasingly shaped by the English classification of social life. The definitional divide that structured the role of law in most cases was the line between what was deemed religious versus secular. In Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in Modern South Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Julia Stephens, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Rutgers University, examines how Islam and Muslims were regulated within legal domains that managed various spheres of life. British rule determined that religious laws were most effective in governing family affairs but secular laws would govern markets and transactions. What complicated this simple binary was that Islamic “personal law” was very often bound up with economic issues. In our conversation we discuss British notions of “secular governance,” marriage and women’s property, the role of custom in legal reasoning, rulings around ritual and challenges

  • Mallika Kaur, Faith, Gender, and Activism in the Punjab Conflict: The Wheat Fields Still Whisper (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

    Mallika Kaur, "Faith, Gender, and Activism in the Punjab Conflict: The Wheat Fields Still Whisper" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

    05/05/2020 Duration: 01h01min

    Punjab was the arena of one of the first major armed conflicts of post-colonial India. During its deadliest decade, as many as 250,000 people were killed. This book makes an urgent intervention in the history of the conflict, which to date has been characterized by a fixation on sensational violence—or ignored altogether. In her book Faith, Gender, and Activism in the Punjab Conflict: The Wheat Fields Still Whisper (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), Mallika Kaur unearths the stories of three people who found themselves at the center of Punjab’s human rights movement: Baljit Kaur, who armed herself with a video camera to record essential evidence of the conflict; Justice Ajit Singh Bains, who became a beloved “people’s judge”; and Inderjit Singh Jaijee, who returned to Punjab to document abuses even as other elites were fleeing. Together, they are credited with saving countless lives. Braiding oral histories, personal snapshots, and primary documents recovered from at-risk archives, Kaur shows that when entire confli

  • Ünver Rüstem, Ottoman Baroque: The Architectural Refashioning of Eighteenth-Century Istanbul (Princeton UP, 2019)

    Ünver Rüstem, "Ottoman Baroque: The Architectural Refashioning of Eighteenth-Century Istanbul" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    28/04/2020 Duration: 01h11min

    In Istanbul, there is a mosque on every hill. Cruising along the Bosphorus, either for pleasure, or like the majority of Istanbul’s denizens, for transit, you cannot help but notice that the city’s landscape would be dramatically altered without the mosques of the city. In Ottoman Baroque: The Architectural Refashioning of Eighteenth-Century Istanbul (Princeton University Press, 2019), Ünver Rüstem takes a stab of a slice of that history, arguing that we should see the eighteenth-century Baroque period in Ottoman mosque architecture as innovative and not derivative in how Ottoman mosque architecture integrated Baroque elements. By doing so, he pushes back effectively against notions of Ottoman decline and demonstrates that such architecture, praised in the contemporary writings of both Ottoman and Western viewers, successfully rebranded the Ottoman capital for a changing world. He also draws our eyes to the complex social process by which mosque design develops, bringing in a cast of characters that includes

  • Leslie M. Harris, Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    28/04/2020 Duration: 59min

    Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day. The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as P

  • Danielle Ross, Tatar Empire: Kazans Muslims and the Making of Imperial Russia (Indiana UP, 2020)

    Danielle Ross, "Tatar Empire: Kazan's Muslims and the Making of Imperial Russia" (Indiana UP, 2020)

    27/04/2020 Duration: 01h11min

    In her new book Tatar Empire: Kazan's Muslims and the Making of Imperial Russia (Indiana University Press, 2020), Danielle Ross looks at how the Tatars of Kazan participated in the formation of the Russian empire through their various activities in trade, settlement, clerical work, intellectual culture, and trade. By centering on the Muslims in Kazan, Tatar Empire looks more closely at the role of Tatars in the creation of Russian empire, while simultaneously putting the history of the Volga-Ural Muslims in a broader, more global historical context. Nicholas Seay is a PhD student at The Ohio State University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Courtney M. Dorroll, “Teaching Islamic Studies in the Age of ISIS, Islamophobia and the Internet” (Indiana UP, 2019)

    Courtney M. Dorroll, “Teaching Islamic Studies in the Age of ISIS, Islamophobia and the Internet” (Indiana UP, 2019)

    24/04/2020 Duration: 57min

    Islamic Studies classrooms have grown significantly over several generations. While once we could only find courses on the tradition in the most prestigious of institutions now Islam classes are taught at small liberal arts colleges, state schools, private universities, and even programs in Islamic theology and law. Teaching Islamic Studies in the Age of ISIS, Islamophobia and the Internet (Indiana University Press, 2019), edited by Courtney M. Dorroll, Assistant Professor at Wofford College, covers approaches, strategies, and topics important for the study of Islam today. Across several chapters we are introduced to various common dispositions students enter are classes with and how to address them. Many of these opinions are informed by popular stereotypes about Muslims and get reinforced by contemporary events. These moments often require immediate attention in the classroom, a burden most other subjects do not share, and unfortunately much of teaching about Islam is motivated by unlearning these biases. T

  • Eric Dursteler, In the Sultan’s Realm: Two Venetian Reports on the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (CRRS, 2018)

    Eric Dursteler, "In the Sultan’s Realm: Two Venetian Reports on the Early Modern Ottoman Empire" (CRRS, 2018)

    23/04/2020 Duration: 01h10min

    In the Sultan’s Realm: Two Venetian Reports on the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2018) is Professor Eric Dursteler’s translation of two final diplomatic reports (relazione) that Venetian ambassadors delivered upon their return to that Most Serene Republic at the turn of the seventeenth century—Lorenzo Bernardo in 1590 and Ottaviano Bon in 1609. These were polished and summative works performed before the assembled government of Venice detailing the politics and culture of the Ottoman Empire and its dealings with other powers. They offer insight about the work—and sometimes game—of early modern diplomacy; they aspire to a explain the character and spirit of the Sultan and his empire, in the process revealing even more about Venice and her agents. In this discussion, Professor Dursteler describes the early modern Mediterranean world, its arrangement and political issues, and its changes in the wake of the Battle of Lepanto (1571). He also talks about slavery, corsa

  • Christiane Gruber, “The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images (Indiana UP, 2019)

    Christiane Gruber, “The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images" (Indiana UP, 2019)

    17/04/2020 Duration: 01h03min

    In our most recent public memory, images of the Prophet Muhammad have caused a great deal of controversy, such as satirical cartoons of Muhammad in French magazine Charlie Hebdo, or Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The sometimes violent backlash to these images has reinforced the popular narrative that Islam is aniconic and iconoclastic. In The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images (Indiana University Press, 2019), Christiane Gruber, Professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan, demonstrates that there is long rich history of images of Muhammad from within the Islamic tradition. The styles, themes, and strategies used to represent the Prophet have significantly shifted and altered over time. Gruber synthesizes an extensive archive of images and leads the reader through various thematic patterns, cultural specificities, and unique examples. We are presented with a detailed overview of textual and visual representations of Muhammad that is placed within a deep unde

  • Shadaab Rahemtullah, Quran of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam (Oxford UP, 2017)

    Shadaab Rahemtullah, "Qur'an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam" (Oxford UP, 2017)

    10/04/2020 Duration: 42min

    Shadaab Rahemtullah's book Qur'an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam (Oxford University Press, 2017) offers a compelling comparative analysis of the works of four Muslim scholars of Islam – Asghar Ali Engineer, Farid Esack, Amina Wadud, and Asma Barlas. The book serves as an excellent introduction to the works of these scholars and is complete with a clear, thorough, and rich analysis of the ways that they approach Islam's most important scripture as a liberating text to respond to various issues, such as poverty, patriarchy, racism, and inter-religious conflict. Qur'an of the Oppressed relies both on these scholars' written works and on Rahemtullah's in-depth interviews with them. Each chapter is dedicated to an individual scholar and begins with an introduction to their backgrounds with a discussion of the political, social, and other contexts that shape their respective scholarship; while deeply appreciative of their works, Rahemtullah also carefully addresses the drawbacks o

  • Christine Fair, In Their Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Christine Fair, "In Their Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    06/04/2020 Duration: 02h30min

    The attacks on the luxurious Taj Hotel in Mumbai in 2008 put Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a jihadist terrorist group, in the international / Western spotlight for the first time, though they had been deadly active in India and Afghanistan for decades. In her book In Their Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Oxford University Press, 2018), Christine Fair reveals a little-known aspect of how LeT functions in Pakistan and beyond, by translating and commenting upon a range of publications produced and disseminated by Dar-ul-Andlus, the publishing wing of LeT. Only a fraction of LeT's cadres ever see battle: most of them are despatched on nation-wide "prozelytising" (dawa) missions to convert Pakistanis to their particular interpretation of Islam, in support of which LeT has developed a sophisticated propagandist literature. This canon of Islamist texts is the most popular and potent weapon in LeT's arsenal, and its scrutiny affords insights into how and who the group recruits; LeT's justification for jihad; its vis

  • Kate Imy, Faithful Fighters: Identity and Power in the British Indian Army (Stanford UP, 2019)

    Kate Imy, "Faithful Fighters: Identity and Power in the British Indian Army" (Stanford UP, 2019)

    03/04/2020 Duration: 01h10min

    In her fascinating and remarkable new book Faithful Fighters: Identity and Power in the British Indian Army (Stanford University Press, 2019), Kate Imy explores the negotiation of religious identity, military service, and imperial power in the context of twentieth century British India. How were preconceived British imperial notions of religion and loyalty to the state attached to indigenous South Asian communities frustrated by the way Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, and Nepali Gurkha (Hindu and Buddhist) soldiers engaged the state and performed their political and religious identities as part of the British Indian army. Faithful Fighters is a powerful and brilliant meditation on the impossibility of modern colonial power to canonize religion and religious identity. The six chapters of this book examine a range of archives, themes, theaters, and actors including tensions surrounding the valorization of Sikh loyalty and controversies shadowing the Kirpān (sword), the cooptation of pan-Islamic sentiments for British impe

  • Matt Cook, Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020)

    Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

    30/03/2020 Duration: 54min

    Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few collaborators dive deeply into more than 75 paradoxes in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the social sciences. As each paradox is discussed and resolved, Cook helps readers discover the meaning of knowledge and the proper formation of concepts―and how reason can dispel the illusion of contradiction. The journey begins with “a most ingenious paradox” from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Readers will then travel from Ancient Greece to cutting-edge laboratories, encounter infinity and its diffe

  • Edward E. Curtis IV, Muslim American Politics and the Future of US Democracy (NYU Press, 2019)

    Edward E. Curtis IV, "Muslim American Politics and the Future of US Democracy" (NYU Press, 2019)

    26/03/2020 Duration: 48min

    In his new book Muslim American Politics and the Future of US Democracy (New York University Press, 2019), Edward E. Curtis IV interrogates the limitations of American liberalism in light of the states’ and its various actor’s exclusionary politics and rhetoric around Muslim American citizens. Curtis argues that the place of Muslim Americans in the narrative and praxis of American law, politics, rights discourse, and much are, must be questioned. To do so, the book examines various case studies of Muslim American institutions, figures, soldiers, and women who have navigated and negotiated their place within American democracy as citizens. For instance, the Nation of Islam (NOI) is one such case study explored in the book. Curtis considers how the NOI maintained certain forms of American liberalism (i.e., use of law and incurring of capital) while challenging others (i.e., racial and religious logics) as the movement developed. While Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) quintessentially models political dissen

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