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CMSP Spring 2017 Events

Islamic architecture patterns

Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 4:30pm, American Studies Department, 404 Morrill Hall

T. Emil Homerin (University of Rochester) - "'Ā’ishah al-Bā'ūnīyah: A Life in Praise of Love"

'Ā’ishah al-Bā'ūnīyah (d. 923/1517) was one of the greatest women scholars in Islamic history.  A mystic, poet, and writer, 'Ā’ishah al-Bā'ūnīyah, by her own account, composed over twenty separate works in Arabic.  Often, she wrote of her devotion to God and His prophet Muhammad, and spoke of love and longing on the quest for mystical union.  I have recently been asked to write an account of her life and work for the series the “Makers of the Muslim World,” and for this presentation, I will discuss her biography and specific poems and writings in context of this on-going project.


Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 4:30pm, Kroch Library Basement, Manuscripts & Archives Collection

Laurent Ferri (Curator of Manuscripts, Cornell University Libraries) - "Printing the Qur’an in the Sixteenth Century"

Co-sponsored by the Near Eastern Studies Department

Given the late adoption of the printing press in the Ottoman Empire, it doesn't come as a surprise that the Qu'ran was printed only in Western European countries (and Russia) until the early 19th century. What is not always known is that the very first printed edition was issued in Arabic in Venice around 1537-8 to be exported from Venice to Istanbul. Even though they were carefully "framed", the following editions, in Latin (1543), were more controversial. The Basel edition was the work of three men: the orientalist, linguist and Biblical expert Theodor Buchmann aka Bibliander; the humanist Philipp Schwartzerd aka Melanchthon who wrote the "warning to the reader"; and the activist printer Johannes Herbst aka Oporinus, who wasn't afraid of polemical or taboo subjects, from anatomy to witchcraft. The simultaneously published and rival edition, by the Catholic orientalist Johann Albrecht von Widmanstetter (Nuremberg, 1543) was overshadowed by the successful Protestant edition. The presentation will replace the history of the translations and printings of the Qu'ran within a geopolitical, theological, and intellectual context. On display for examination will be important materials from Kroch Library (RMC) related to this important topic.


Thursday, March 2, 2017 - 4:30pm, American Studies Department, 404 Morrill Hall

Nancy Um (SUNY Binghamton) - "The Material Rites of Commerce: Negotiating with Europeans and Baniyans in Eighteenth-Century Yemen"

On the whole, historians of the Indian Ocean trade have overlooked the social life of commerce, understanding exchange within the narrow light of its transactional processes and restricted to those exchanges that resulted in a tangible loss or profit. This presentation takes a different perspective on the activities of major overseas merchants, with a focus on eighteenth-century Yemen, by examining the seemingly non-transactional social rites that they participated in, with the contention that these repetitive routines were closely associated with the cycles of maritime trade and were primarily oriented around a corpus of material objects, both locally derived and imported, many of which overlapped with the commodities that were also for sale in the marketplace. These mediating goods served to differentiate classes of merchants by visually and tangibly articulating their privileges in the diverse trading world of eighteenth-century coastal Yemen, which included Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and Jain traders.


Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 4:30pm, American Studies Department, 404 Morrill Hall

Zaheer Ali (Brooklyn Historical Society) - "The Nation of Islam and the Creation of Muslim Spaces in Brooklyn, New York"

The spread of Islam in the African American community in the 20th century altered not only the religious and political landscape of black America, but also the urban terrain upon which much of that topography took form. The Nation of Islam (NOI), the African American religious community founded in Detroit in 1930, played a critical role in this process. By the mid-1950s, members of the NOI were re-imagining and re-mapping the cities they lived in, creating spaces for Islam that were simultaneously spiritual, political, commercial, and dialogic. Drawing on the history of the NOI’s Brooklyn-based mosque community, this paper examines how these spaces constituted their own geography that anchored a new religious identity that NOI members inscribed, ritualized, produced, consumed, and protected in their sacred spaces.


Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 4:30pm, American Studies Department, 404 Morrill Hall

Danilyn Rutherford (UC Santa Cruz) - "Guests and Hosts in the Highlands: Excerpts from Living in the Stone Age: Colonialism, Anthropology, and the Experience of Empire in Dutch New Guinea"

Colonialism in the Netherlands Indies was a matter of maps and censuses, plantations and planning documents, the control of land and labor, and the pursuit of national pride.  But it was also a matter of minor meetings — awkward encounters on lonely beaches and sleepy villages, stumbled into by disruptive strangers who claimed control over their surroundings but were never quite at home.  Strangers who were both guests, who had to stay in the good graces of the people whose lives they were disrupting, and hosts, who were intent on welcoming these very people into a new and supposedly better world.  The Indies’ furthest reaches at the “edge” of Islam were no exception.  The western half of New Guinea began its colonial career as a backwater of the Indies.  But in the 1950s, against the protests of leaders of the newly independent Indonesian republic, the Dutch retained the region as a self-standing colony.   To understand why the Dutch remained longer in New Guinea than in any other part of the colony, we need the big picture provided by the growing literature on colony policy and practice.  But we also need small snapshots of the on-the-ground interactions from which this colonial order was made.  These interactions happened in zones of contact that were at the same time zones of hospitality: spaces where the colonized and the colonizers both welcomed and kept each other at bay.


Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 4:30pm, American Studies Department, 404 Morrill Hall

Fabio López Lázaro (University of Hawaii at Manoa) - "Imagined, Contested, and Forgotten Wests and Worlds: Medieval Challenges to Modern Stereotypes about the Western and Muslim Worlds"

Geographical and politonymic taxonomies (like "Western" and "Muslim") have been historically used to imagine ---and obscure--- sameness and difference between peoples across time and space. In this talk I discuss the consequences of my discovery of medieval evidence that questions a favorite media trope, the differentiation of "Western" and "Muslim." Medieval evidence that "Western" was first coined as a cultural-political moniker by the Muslim Mediterranean Almohad dynasty of the eleventh and twelfth centuries problematizes two central tenets of Occidentalism: the modern anachronistic chronotopic meanings of "Western" and "Muslim" and the agnotological dismissal of our debt to Almohad-sponsored philosophy and politics. I explore how these discourses have essentialized and divorced European Renaissances, Enlightenments, and Modernities---as unique "Wests"---from transliminal phenomena that were not exclusively European, African, or Asian, nor Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.


Monday, April 24, 2017 - 4:30pm, American Studies Department, 404 Morrill Hall

Yasmin Moll (University of Michigan) - "Debating Daʿwa: Theologies of Mediation in the Egyptian Islamic Revival"

What makes media “Islamic”? Based on ethnographic fieldwork with Islamic television producers in Cairo from 2010 to 2013, this talk looks at the passionate contention within Egypt’s piety movement over the development of new forms of religious media. At stake in these mass-mediated debates over daʿwa (Islamic outreach) are conflicting theologies of religious publicity and its relation to everyday life. . These theologies matter a great deal to Islamic Revivalists who spend more time debunking each other than they do secularists. Over the past decade, Islamic television channels have emerged as the most important sites of these internal struggles. Examining the Islamic Revival’s internal cleavages troubles both the “secular” and the “religious” as analytical categories.


Monday, May 8, 2017 - 4:30pm, American Studies Department, 404 Morrill Hall

Robert Antony (Guangzhou University & John Jay College of Criminal Justice) - "Trade, Religion, and Islam Along the South China Coast: Doing Historical Fieldwork"

In this presentation I will discuss my experiences doing historical fieldwork along the coast of South China over the past ten years, and the importance of doing fieldwork for historical studies. My talk will focus on the interface between trade and religion over the past several centuries.  I will be highlighting the Muslim traders who created a diasporic community and the Great Mosque in Canton in the Tang dynasty, as well as the Muslim Chinese mariner Zheng He, who sailed across the Indian Ocean in seven voyages in the Ming Dynasty.  I will end by looking at the resurgence of the Muslim community in Canton, South China, today.