2014-2015 Annual Lecture Series

How To Be a Modern Muslim: Global Social Imaginaries and the Construction of Islamic Identities

Dietrich Jung

Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 7:00 pm

Simon Fraser University
Joseph and Rosalie Segal Rooms 1420-1430
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Combining contemporary social theory with Islamic studies, this lecture looks at the various ways in which Muslims have dealt with the construction of social orders and forms of subjectivity in the modern age. Taking examples from the broad stream of Islamic reform movements, it shows the ways in which globally relevant social imaginaries together with Islamic traditions have served as frames of reference for individual and collective ways to construct modern Islamic identities. In pointing to both similarities and differences between Islamic and non-Islamic forms of social order and modern selfhoods, the presentation claims that also modern Muslim identities have been constructed with respect to a set of more global paradigms. In this way, the lecture challenges exclusivist assumptions about both Western modernity and modern Islamic ways of life.

Dietrich Jung is a Professor and Head of Department at the Center for Contemporary Middle East Studies, University of Southern Denmark. He holds a MA in Political Science and Islamic Studies, as well as a Ph.D. from the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Germany, and has large field experience in the Muslim world. He has published numerous scholarly articles on causes of war, peace and conflict studies, political Islam, modern Turkey and on conflicts in the Middle East. His articles appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Cooperation & Conflict, Dansk Sociologi, European Journal of International Relations, International Journal, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Middle East Critique, Mediterranean Politics, Politische Vierteljahresschrift, Religious Research Review. Prof. Jung published ten monographs and edited books of which the most recent are: Religion, Politics, and Turkey’s EU Accession, New York: Palgrave Macmillan (ed. with Catharina Raudvere, 2008), Orientalists, Islamists and the Global Public Sphere: A Genealogy of the Modern Essentialist Image of Islam, Sheffield: Equinox (2011), and The Politics of Modern Muslim Subjectivities: Islam, Youth and Social Activism in the Middle East, together with Marie Juul Petersen and Sara Lei Sparre, New York: Palgrave (January 2014).

“This astonishing book [Orientalists, Islamists and the Global Public Sphere], knowledgeable and elegant, goes beyond heated polemics by means of sophisticated use of social theory so as to present a complete, balanced and convincing account of the formation of contemporary understandings of the Islamic World.” John Hall, Professor of Comparative Historical Sociology, McGill University.


Christoph Neumann

Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7:00 pm

Simon Fraser University
Joseph and Rosalie Segal Rooms 1420-1430
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Dr. Christoph K. Neumann is a Professor of Turkish Studies and the Head of the Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at  Munich Ludwig Maximilian University. He taught at Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul Technical University, Charles University and Bogazici University. He also served as the Deputy Director of the Orient Institute of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft in Istanbul.

Dr. Neumann has published widely on the cultural, political, and intellectual history of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. He has also contributed to the Cambridge History of Turkey, and  has translated novels by Orhan Pamuk and Ahmed Hamdi Tanpinar. His co-authored book Kleine Geschichte der Türkei (A Short History of Turkey) (Philipp Reclam, second edition 2008) was translated into Turkish, Czech and Italian. He is also the co-editor of Popular Protest and Political Participation in the Ottoman Empire: Studies in Honor of Suraiya Faroqhi, (with Eleni Gara and M. Erdem Kabadayi, Istanbul: Istanbul Bilgi University Press, 2011), Untold Histories of the Middle East: Recovering Voices from the 19th and 20th Centuries, (with Aksin Selçuk Somel and Amy Singer, London: Routledge, 2011), Feeding People, Feeding Power: Imarets in the Ottoman Empire, (with Nina Ergin, and Amy Singer, Istanbul: Eren, 2007), Ottoman Costumes: From Textile to Identity, (with Suraiya Faroqhi, Istanbul: Eren, 2004) and The Illuminated Table, the Prosperous House: Food and Shelter in Ottoman Material Culture, (with Suraiya Faroqhi, Würzburg: Orient-Institut der DMG, 2003).


Shainool Jiwa

Wednesday, November 26, 2014, 7:00 pm

Simon Fraser University
Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre 1400-1430
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

This lecture will examine Fatimid Shia Ismaili Muslim governance and its impact on the medieval Mediterranean world of the 10th-11th centuries – a region inhabited by people from diverse ethnic backgrounds and religious persuasions. During their two and a half century rule (909-1171 CE), the Fatimid rulers, known as Imam-caliphs, developed a model of governance recognised both in medieval and modern times for its inclusivity. Christians and Jews participated actively in imperial administration and non-Shia Muslims were not compelled to adopt a Shia Ismaili interpretation of Islam. The lecture will discuss the extent to which Fatimid policy was the result of the interplay between doctrinal commitments and their lived experience, tempered by local conditions and communal dynamics. It will focus on how Fatimid governance was articulated and evolved over the course of the dynasty’s rule, and how salient Fatimid figures conceived the relationship between the ruler and subject. It will conclude with observations on whether the Fatimid model of governance led to a distinctive relationship between the Imam-caliphs and their non-Muslim constituencies.

Dr. Shainool Jiwa is the Head of Constituency Studies at the Institute of Ismaili Studiees (London) and Member of the Board of Governors for Edinburgh Napier University.  An internationally renowned specialist on Fatimid history, she is the author of two major monographs: Towards a Shi’i Mediterranean Empire: Fatimid Egypt and the Founding of Cairo (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009) and The Founder of Cairo: The Fatimid Imam-Caliph al-Mu’izz and His Era (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013).

Book-signing will follow lecture.


Leslie Peirce

Thursday, March 12, 2015, 7:00 pm

Simon Fraser University - Harbour Centre
Joseph and Rosalie Segal Rooms 1400-1430
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Dr Leslie Peirce is the Silver Professor in History, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. She has published extensively on questions of gender, law, and society in the Ottoman Empire including two award winning books, The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire, Oxford University Press, 1993 and Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab, University of California Press, 2003.