The Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures has been established at Simon Fraser University to encourage the academic discussion and public understanding of the cultures and societies of Muslim peoples in the past and present. The Centre works through a variety of programs to broaden the discussion of this important subject and to introduce more complexity and comparison in the analysis.
Muslim societies and cultures have increasingly become the focus of public and academic attention, although much of the discussion has centred narrowly on contemporary issues of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. The variability and flexibility of Muslim practices and perspectives have not featured in this discourse, leaving the public largely unaware of complexities, achievements and challenges. The Centre has worked to redress this imbalance by broadening the discussion to introduce more comparison and complexity in the study of Muslim societies and cultures from Africa, through the Arab and Persianate world, and into Asia and the West. By focusing attention on Muslim (not Islamic) societies and cultures, the Centre has encouraged a shift in analysis from the notion of a single unitary religious ideascape defined by Islam to a more complex view of Muslims as agents in the construction of their own history.
The Centre works through a variety of programs to broaden the discussion of this important subject and to introduce more complexity and comparison in the analysis. In pursuit of this objective, the Centre has brought numerous academic specialists to campus for lectures and consultations; convened interdisciplinary conferences and workshops; established a highly-regarded summer school alternating between Vancouver and London (UK); organized film festivals, art exhibits, and concerts; created residencies, scholarships and visiting professorships; and solicited contributions of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish language material for the SFU research library.