20 New Carnegie Scholars Announced


Carnegie Corporation of New York President Vartan Gregorian today named 20 new Carnegie Scholars. The new Scholars were selected for their compelling ideas and commitment to enriching the quality of the public dialog on Islam. The Corporation provides funding, with two-year grants of up to $100,000, and intellectual support to well-established and promising young thinkers, analysts and writers. The 2008 awardees are the fourth consecutive annual class to focus on Islam, bringing to 91 the number of Carnegie Scholars devoted to the topic since the program began in 2000. Commenting on the 2008 Carnegie Scholars and the program's current focus on Islam, Gregorian said, "We are cultivating a diverse scholarly community spanning a range of disciplines with the expectation that their voices will help Americans develop a more complex understanding of Muslim societies here and throughout the world--revealing Islam's rich diversity. Only through vibrant dialogue, guided by bold and nuanced scholarship, can we move public thinking into new territory."

The 2008 Scholars are drawn from a number of disciplines and represent public universities, liberal arts colleges and traditional research universities. The projects they will pursue during their two-year scholarship include examinations of: Muslim immigrants' influence on the development of Islam as an African American religious tradition; Jewish and Muslim accommodations to modernity in Europe and the United States; the disjunction between Islam's view of resource distribution and the exploitation of oil revenues by Muslim political elites; and how American and British media used Islam and Muslims to frame their coverage of terrorism since September, 11, 2001. (Names of all 2008 Carnegie Scholars are provided below).

The Carnegie Scholars program allows independent-minded thinkers to pursue original projects oriented toward catalyzing intellectual discourse as well as guiding more focused and pragmatic policy discussions. Scholars are selected not only for their originality and proven intellectual capacity, but for their demonstrated ability to communicate their ideas in ways that can catalyze public discourse.

The Carnegie Scholars program was established by Vartan Gregorian in 1999 to provide financial and intellectual support to writers, analysts and thinkers addressing some of the most critical research questions of our time. By identifying and investing in some of the brightest and most innovative contemporary thinkers, Carnegie Corporation seeks to inform its own programs as well as to advance and diffuse knowledge that will uplift our nation and humanity. Since 2005, the program has supported scholars whose work seeks to promote American understanding of Islam as a religion, the characteristics of Muslim societies, in general, and those of American Muslim communities, in particular.

Patricia L. Rosenfield, who leads the Carnegie Scholars Program said, "America's discourse on Islam will benefit from the Scholars' enthusiastic quest to transform complex information into useful, structured knowledge. Their superb scholarship is often daring, always accessible and truly public." Rosenfield said that emerging and established scholars alike are encouraged to orient their writing and speaking beyond purely academic audiences.

Financial support for emerging scholars--those who are refining their voices and building their bodies of work--is especially important as it helps validate credibility and serves as an investment that yields considerable benefits later to the scholarly community. However crucial, financial support is not the only form of support provided to Scholars. The Corporation provides them entree into its various networks, including an active community of past Scholars, and offers professional development, such as workshops aimed at improving their capacity to communicate their scholarship to broad audiences.

Every year since 2000, Carnegie Corporation of New York selects as many as 20 Carnegie Scholars following a rigorous and highly competitive process. Nominations are invited from more than 500 nominators representing a broad range of disciplines and institutions, including academia, research institutes, non profit organizations, the media and foundations. Nominators are asked to identify original thinkers who have the ability--or promise--to spark academic and public debate, and whose work transcends academic boundaries.

A detailed project proposal and multi-step review process, utilizing Carnegie Corporation officers and external reviewers, identifies as finalists those nominees who offer a combination of original scholarship, past accomplishments, potential for impact on the field and capacity to communicate to the broader public and policymakers.



Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

Title: State Power and Islamic Authority: A Comparative Ethnography of the Fatwa

Agrama, a cultural anthropologist, will focus on Islamic authority by examining the uses of the fatwa under the distinctive legal systems and regulatory policies of two very different states: Egypt, where Islam is the state religion, and France, where secularism is official policy. Because fatwas are a primary means of exercising Islamic authority, Agrama's examination of how they are actually practiced will bring to light the unintended and often counterintuitive ways that state law and regulatory policies shape and enable religious authority within the daily lives of Muslims. His book aims to broaden the public's knowledge of what sustains and gives vitality to contemporary Islamic movements, as well as help policymakers better understand the implications of their regulatory policies.


Columbia University
New York, New York

Title: Identity, Inclusion and Muslim Youth

Aidi, a political scientist, will examine the cultural and political responses of Muslim youth in America and Western Europe in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 and the different initiatives Western states have adopted to integrate Muslim communities within their borders. Aidi's research will explain how Muslim youth, in their bid for social inclusion, are becoming racially and politically conscious, and are producing new diaspora identities and movements. The study will also analyze the rise of Islam in peripheral urban areas in the Americas and Europe, the growing influence of Islam and Middle Eastern art forms on American and European popular culture, and the reactions of non-Muslims to the growing Muslim communities in their midst. Aidi's book and his related outreach efforts should help connect conversations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic.


Assistant Professor
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina

Title: Holy Ground: Strategies of Sharing Islamic Sacred Space.

Bigelow, a religion scholar, will study shared sacred sites in India and the Middle East where, despite the possibility of conflict, violence does not occur. Bigelow seeks to identify and analyze the day-to-day work involved in establishing and maintaining inter-religious peace between Muslims and non-Muslims at the local level. This analysis will provide an important corrective to both scholarship and journalism on shared sites, which tend to focus on explosive sites such as Jerusalem or Ayodhya, India, leaving nonviolent, pluralistic communities comparatively neglected. Bigelow's balanced approach will make it possible to analyze factors that exacerbate or mitigate peace and conflict. In articles lectures and a book, Bigelow will explore how multi-religious communities establish and maintain stable shared sacred and civic spaces. Her work will identify effective grassroots strategies and tactics applicable to other situations, offering to policymakers new options for reducing or preventing destructive conflict.


University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Title: Islam v. Nationalism in Arab Post-Independence Narratives

Brand, a political scientist, will study the evolution of national narratives in post-independence Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. She will examine the interplay of religion and nationalism in the development and refinement of these countries' official histories and seek to explain the processes by which they were written (or re-written) to repress or co-opt competing "stories" about religion and political power. In her book, Brand intends to offer new insights into the complex relationship of Islam to the Arab state and to national identity. Her analysis aims to contribute to the ongoing conversation regarding the apparent intractability of authoritarianism in the region, a characteristic that is routinely attributed to Islam. Brand's work will add to a deeper understanding of how repressive regimes often employ religion as part of their strategy for securing power and battling their enemies.


Associate Professor
New York University
New York, New York

Title: Islam and Democracy: The Effect of Institutions

Chandra, a political scientist, will address the effect of the mobilization of Muslim political identities on democracy. Using a cross-national dataset on the mobilization of ethnic identities by political parties around the world and a series of ethnographic studies, Chandra will test a hypothesis that suggests that the relationship between Islam and democracy may be determined less by the doctrine or practice of Islam and more by the institutional context within which Islam is practiced. Her multi-disciplinary approach will yield a deeper understanding of the institutional structures that are most likely to produce a benign relationship between Islamic parties and democratic stability. Not only will Chandra prepare a book drawing together the results of her country-specific and cross-national analyses, she also aims to reach broad audiences through newspaper and popular journal articles.


Drew University
Madison, New Jersey

Title: The Migration of Islamist Militancy to Urban Poverty Belts in the Middle East

Colton, an economist, will examine the association between the spread of militant Islamic ideology and poverty in urban areas in the Arab world. She will document the shift in the role that religion plays in the lives of poor people to understand why they are increasingly embracing militant Islam. Her research will articulate, for example, how the Islamist message is packaged for the urban poor and will analyze the foreign policy repercussions of the relationship between poverty and Islam. Colton expects that her research, including a book and articles for the popular media, will provide policymakers in the Middle East and the West with the detailed analysis to more adequately address the complex causes of poverty and inequality in the Middle East.


Associate Professor
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Indianapolis, Indiana

Title: The Transnational History of African American Islam

Curtis, a religious studies scholar, will explore the influences of foreign and immigrant Muslims on the development of Islam as a twentieth-century African American religious tradition. His work will challenge the notion that African American Muslims have been vulnerable to the ideals of Muslim radicals. African American Muslims, Curtis will argue in his book, have shaped a transnational Islam that has been a resource for spiritual, political, and cultural autonomy. He will show how African American Muslim study, travel, and pilgrimage in the Islamic world have led to the incorporation of Islamic practices and material culture into a distinctly American religious tradition. Curtis's research will address the concerns of policy makers that overseas Muslims are leading American Muslims toward anti-Americanism, and confront doubts by foreign and immigrant Muslims about the authenticity of African American Islam.


Tufts University
Medford, Massachusetts

Title: The Experience of War: Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia, 1914-1920

Fawaz, an historian, will examine the globalizing influences of the First World War on Islamic identities. To do so, she will draw on the perceptions of the British colonial army's more than one million South Asian soldiers, many serving in the Ottoman-controlled Middle East. Fawaz's research will focus on connections between Middle the East and South Asia as well as the complex relationship of Muslim and Hindu soldiers fighting for a colonial power against the leader of the largest Muslim territorial empire of the day, and of Muslim soldiers siding with non-Muslims against their own leaders. Fawaz's book will result in a deeper understanding of the complex issues of power and identity that continue to impact the Muslim world today.


Assistant Professor
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Title: Re-Thinking Secularism and Sectarianism in the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990)

Gasper, an historian, will examine the intersection of religion and politics around the questions of identity and national history through the lens of the Lebanese Civil War. By developing an understanding of the complex motivations of the militias, Gasper will critique the notion of sectarianism as the predominant narrative explaining the country's history. The research is especially timely and important in that it will contribute to policymakers' comprehension of what has been referred to as the "Lebanonization" of Iraq - an idea that holds that Iraq will devolve into the same kind of kind of confessional strife that marked Lebanon during its civil war. Thus his book should have wide appeal for policymakers and others seeking to better understand current conditions in the Middle East.


Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire

Title: The Monotheistic Triangle: Judaism and Islam in the Modern Christian World

Heschel, a religion scholar, will examine the prominence of Jews in European scholarship on Islam during the 19th and 20th centuries, prior to World War II, to demonstrate how the Jewish fascination with Islam shaped Jewish self-understanding and theology. Building upon her earlier work on the history of Jewish scholarship on Jesus and Christian origins, Heschel will, in her new book, demonstrate the ways both Judaism and Islam are affected by Christianity's attitudes toward religious pluralism and its role in antisemitism and Islamophobia. Stressing points of similarity between Muslim and Jewish experiences of assimilation into Europe and the United States and the modernization of their respective religions, Heschel's scholarship will suggest ways Jewish historical experience affects Muslim self-understanding, and how tensions between Christians and Muslims in Europe and the United States might be overcome. She further intends to offer points of theological and political commonality between Muslims and Jews.


Professor of Islamic Studies
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina

Title: Christian and Muslim Minorities as Secular Citizens in Africa and Asia

Lawrence, a scholar whose work compares religion across different societies, will investigate how Egypt and Ethiopia, Indonesia and the Philippines have contended with challenges posed to multi-creedal nationalism by religious nationalists who deny both pluralism and the rights of religious minorities. He will explore why religious minorities remain a crucial index to the success, or failure, of deep pluralism and social comity. Lawrence's work will also analyze how location, whether in Africa or Asia, produces not just different narratives but also diverse outcomes for minority and majority religious communities. Academics and political observers alike will benefit from Lawrence's work. His book will throw welcome light on the dynamics that compel ideologues to claim religion as the major explanation for both policies and actions that, in fact, have little to do with religious beliefs or practices. Lawrence will contrast these ideologues with indigenous pluralists who, in their opposition to ideologues, strive to be both devout believers and pragmatic secularists.


Associate Professor
The College of New Jersey
Ewing, New Jersey

Title: Islam and Oil: The Economy of Meaning

Lowi, a political scientist, will examine the relationship between Islam and oil: how interpretations of Islam have shaped the exploitation of oil and allocation of oil revenues, and how the latter have influenced adherence to and the practice of Islam. She suggests that a disjuncture exists in the Middle East and North Africa between Islamic norms and expectations about public resources, on the one hand, and state policy and practices, on the other, and that this disjuncture is a source of instability in the region. To explore the relationship and elucidate the disjuncture, Lowi will study the writings of Muslim thinkers, Islamist organizations, and the popular Arab media, to understand how Muslims think their oil wealth should be exploited. She will investigate state policies financed by oil to learn how elites have exploited oil wealth, both within and outside the state, and their effects on Muslim publics. Lowi's research will culminate in a book-length manuscript on a relationship that is vital, yet has remained uncharted.


Associate Professor
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland

Title: Framing Islam: How Media Cover Muslims & Terrorism - and Why That Matters

Moeller, a historian and former foreign correspondent, will investigate the "stories" American and British media tell about Islam and terrorism. When terrorists are depicted by the media as a monolithic enemy, argues Moeller, rather than as distinctive actors intent on achieving specific political ends, terrorism becomes inexplicable. Moeller will examine when and why the U.S. and British governments' priorities as well as their narratives have become the media's conventional wisdom. Moeller will investigate how media report on the context of terrorism, distinguish the perpetrators, listen to other voices, and consider its victims. The book that will result from her research will inform policymakers, journalists and the general public about how both government and the media 'frame' terrorism for our consumption, too often leaving us fearful, but not well-informed.


Assistant Professor
University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

Title: Classical Arabic Oratory: The Politics and Rhetoric of Public Address in the Islamic World

Qutbuddin, a scholar of Arabic literature, intends to analyze classical Arabic speeches and sermons. Qutbuddin's will be one of the first substantial studies on the earliest and arguably most influential genre of Arabic prose in order to demonstrate that this tradition of oratory has permeated and given shape to the language and concepts of politics in the contemporary Islamic world. By examining the roots of Islamic oratorical discourse from a non-Western conceptual framework, Qutbuddin's work, which will result in a book aimed at academic and public audiences, will foster better understanding of its resonance with present-day Muslim audiences; enhanced appreciation of the declamatory traditions inherited by Muslim clergy and politicians; and more nuanced interpretations of the linguistic and rhetorical symbols of public address in the Islamic world.


Professor of Law
New York Law School
New York, New York

Title: Due Process in Islamic Criminal Law

Reza, a legal scholar, will identify the essentials of criminal due process in classical Islamic legal theory and modern-day Islamic criminal jurisprudence. His research addresses the absence of an established system of "Islamic" criminal procedure--rules governing how criminal suspects are investigated and prosecuted--to correspond with and regulate the enforcement of Islamic criminal law today. By identifying these essentials, Reza's work will suggest a framework for bringing contemporary Islamic criminal practice into closer conformity not only with international standards of criminal due process, but with Islamic rules and principles of justice as well. Reza will publish his findings in a series of articles and a book aimed at legal scholars, policymakers and the public.


Assistant Professor
The American University in Cairo
Cairo, Egypt

Title: The Redefinition of Shari'a in Modern Egyptian Legal Thought: 1798-Present

Shalakany, a legal scholar, will trace the changing definition of Shari'a or Islamic law in modern Egyptian thought. The significance of 1883, considered a transitional moment from "Islamic" to "Western/secular" law, will be challenged by Shalakany's research. He will argue that legal secularism existed in Egypt prior to the 1883 reforms, a thoroughly pre-colonial variant of secularism whose legitimacy rested on Ottoman and even Shari'a sources. Moreover, he will further argue that the significance of 1883 lies more in the transformation of Islamic jurisprudence triggered by the legal reforms adopted that year, rather than merely in the transplantation of French courts and codes to Egyptian soil. By connecting Egyptian legal thought across two centuries, Shalakany will demonstrate how the contemporary notion of Shari'a promoted by jurists affiliated with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement is itself a modern invention, deeply influenced by the jurisprudence of Western Europe. Shalakany's research will lead to a book manuscript that will be translated into Arabic.


Associate Professor
Reed College
Portland, Oregon

Title: The Ethnic Politics of Muslim Secularism: North Africa at the Crossroads

Silverstein, an anthropologist, will focus on how claims to indigenous secularism and non-orthodox religious practice by minority Muslim ethnic groups have gained new political currency. By tracing the intersection between Berber-speaking secularists and Islamic politics in the transnational space linking countries across the western Mediterranean, Silverstein will investigate how the Berber Diaspora in secular Western states influences new developments in ethnic and religious affairs in their Muslim-majority countries of origin. The project, which will culminate in a book-length study written equally for scholars, policy-makers, and a general informed public, will contribute to a deeper understanding of the intersection of ethnic and religious politics within the Islamic world.


Associate Professor
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Title: Religion, Islam and Civil Wars

Toft, a political scientist, will investigate the role of religion in civil wars--particularly the involvement of Muslim-majority states, which are presently involved in a disproportionate number of conflicts. Toft will introduce and test a general explanation of the conditions under which religion becomes a central issue in civil war. The model, which she will continue to refine, holds that religion is more likely to become a central issue in a civil war when political elites compete in evoking religious doctrine and beliefs in an effort to maintain or attract domestic and international support. Toft will apply this model to resolve the puzzle of why Islam has been so over-represented in religious civil wars from 1940 to 2000. The book resulting from her research will help scholars and practitioners answer important questions about how faith and practice impact the likelihood of organized large-scale violence.


Associate Professor
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois

Title: Pragmatism and Pluralism in the Traditional Islamic Thought of
al-Shaykh Ibrahim Saleh of Nigeria

Umar, a religion scholar, will analyze the writings of al-Shaykh Ibrahim Saleh, a contemporary Nigerian public intellectual, who articulates Islamic arguments for pragmatism on topical issues such as pluralism and peaceful coexistence. One of modern Islam's paradoxes is that the most vocal proponents of militancy have been mostly those trained in modern secular education rather than those steeped in traditional Islamic learning. Umar's analysis of Saleh will help address the question of what intellectual capital classical traditions of Islamic learning provide for supporting pragmatic solutions to problems of contemporary Muslim societies. His work aims to advance the compatibility of Islam with tolerance, pluralism and peace. And, in particular, Umar's scholarship will result in a book, providing an important opportunity for fruitful dialogue on Islam among Nigerians, while also shedding light on the intellectual trends within contemporary Islamic thought more broadly.


University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Title: Ethnocommunal Conflict, Civil Society and the State

Varshney, a political scientist, will examine the determinants of ethnocommunal violence and attempt to identify the conditions under which ethnocommunal peace endures. To do so he will build upon his earlier work in India by examining ethnic and communal relations in 15 cities across four countries all of which are, or were at one time, prone to violence. In the cities and countries involved in the research, Varshney seeks to demonstrate that Islam as a religion does not have an integral relationship to violence. In these countries, whether Muslims get involved in repeated and large-scale riots is not a function of Islamic religiosity per se, but of the kinds of links built between them and the other communities, and the role of the state. The volume which Varshney intends to publish as a result of his work will serve as a guide for public policy makers and academics and will facilitate a deeper understanding of ethnocommunal peace and violence.


Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." For more than 95 years the Corporation has carried out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy by building on his two major concerns: international peace and advancing education and knowledge. As a private grantmaking foundation, the Corporation will invest more than $100 million this year in nonprofits to fulfill Mr. Carnegie's mission, "to do real and permanent good in this world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $3.07 billion on September 30, 2007.