Carnegie Corporation Announces 2006 Carnegie Scholars

CARNEGIE SCHOLARS PROGRAM CONTINUES FOCUS ON ISLAMIC SCHOLARSHIP: LARGEST CLASS YET

Today, Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, announced that twenty Carnegie Scholars have been chosen, all of whom will study issues relating to Islam and the modern world. Each member of the new class will receive grants of up to $100,000 to pursue specific Islam-centered research themes over the next two years. This is the second class of Carnegie Scholars to focus on Islam.

The goal of the Corporation's new emphasis on Islam is to encourage the development and expansion of the study of Islam within the United States and to stimulate research on which to help build a body of thoughtful and original scholarship. In past years, scholars focused on the four program areas of the Corporation. This year's scholars were selected from the largest number of nominations to date. They represent an array of U.S. universities and institutions, indicating that Islamic Studies is a growing area of interest in American academia. The Corporation is concentrating the Carnegie Scholars Program on Islam over the next few years to help make the field more central to American research and instruction, significantly expanding the breadth of knowledge necessary to build leadership and guide national and foreign policy.

"Islam is a mosaic of many sects," says Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation. "It’s as diverse as humanity itself. In focusing our Scholars Program on Islam, our overall aim is to expand the range of knowledge and understanding about Islam as a religion and about the cultures and communities of Muslim societies both in the United States and abroad."

The 2006 class of scholars reflects a diversity of professional, ethnic and geographical backgrounds. Notably, half the class comprises younger scholars, who have received a doctorate in or after 1997; almost half are women and many are holders of multiple degrees. The range of their professional fields includes Islamic studies, law, religion, history, sociology, gender studies, international relations, politics, anthropology, constitutionalism, human rights and comparative literature.

The twenty Carnegie Scholars for 2006, their institutions and research titles are:

Abbas Amanat, Yale University
Defying Islamic Conformity: Skeptics, Heretics and Rebelling Dervishes

Said Arjomand, State University of New York, Stony Brook
Islam and Constitutional Reconstruction in the Middle East: A Historical and Comparative Perspective

Raymond W. Baker, Trinity College
The Contemporary Islamic Wassatteyya (Mainstream): Understanding the Resilience and Appeal of Islam in a Global Age

Eva Bellin, Hunter College
Arbitrating Identity: High Courts and the Politics of Islamic-Liberal Reconciliations in the Muslim World

Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, New York University
Islam and the Emergence of Modern China

Devin DeWeese, Indiana University, Bloomington
Historical and Critical Perspectives on Islam in Central Asia

Marwa Elshakry, Harvard University
Science and Secularism in the Arab World After Darwin

Fawaz A. Gerges, Sarah Lawrence College
The Intra-Jihadist War

Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, Reed College
A History of Islam in America since the Colonial Period

Ellis Goldberg, University of Washington
Sovereignty, Community and Citizenship in Contemporary Arab Political Thought

Aziz Huq, New York University
Counter-Terrorism, Speech Regulation, and Muslim Minorities in the West

Marion Holmes Katz, New York University
Contesting the Mosque: Debates over Muslim Women’s Ritual Access

Clark B. Lombardi, University of Washington
Muslim Judges as a New Voice in Islamic Discourse

Farzaneh Milani, University of Virginia
Re-mapping the Cultural Geography of Iran: Islam, Woman, and Mobility

Yitzhak Nakash, Brandeis University
Governance and Leadership in Modern Islam

Vali R. Nasr, Naval Postgraduate School
Gauging the Prospects for the Rise of “Muslim Democratic” Political Parties and Platforms in Muslim Democracies

Jen’nan Ghazal Read, University of California, Irvine
Multiple Identities and Muslim American Political Incorporation

Heather J. Sharkey, University of Pennsylvania
Christian Evangelism and Western Imperialism in the Modern Middle East: The Long-Term Consequences of American Missionary Encounters with Muslims

Elora Shehabuddin, Rice University
Women at the Muslim Center: Islamist Ideals and Democratic Exigencies

Madhavi Sunder, University of California, Davis
The New Enlightenment: How Muslim Women are Bringing Religion and Culture Out of the Dark Ages

Under the leadership of Vartan Gregorian,Carnegie Corporation launched the Carnegie Scholars Program in 1999 to support innovative and path-breaking scholarship on issues related to Corporation program areas. Candidates for the fellowships are first identified by a distinguished group of nominators, then are evaluated and selected in a competitive process by a committee of Carnegie Corporation program leaders and external advisors. This year's class joins a group of 83 Carnegie Scholars who have been selected annually since 2000.

“The selection of the Carnegie Scholars is highly competitive,” says Neil Grabois, vice president and director for strategic planning and program coordination for Carnegie Corporation. “In as much as we want to encourage the study of Islam across the country, we look for intellectual risk-takers who will play a leading role in accomplishing this goal.”

“We’re particularly pleased at the number of women scholars in this year’s class, as well as the recent Ph.D’s" comments Patricia L. Rosenfield, chair of the Carnegie Scholars Program. "They are well-positioned to provide leadership in promoting research on Islam for years to come.”

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie’s vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim “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 $2.2 billon on September 30, 2005. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.

Details on each Scholar's project follow:

ABBAS AMANAT

Professor of History
Yale University 
New Haven, CT 

Title: Defying Islamic Conformity: Skeptics, Heretics and Rebelling Dervishes

Chair of the Council on Middle East Studies of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies for the past 10 years, Amanat will concentrate on the study of nonconformity in the Muslim world through a historical assessment of Muslim societies, dissenters and heretics in the period between the 15th and 20th centuries in the eastern Muslim world, with particular attention on Anatolia, Central Asia, Iran and South Asia. Furthering this goal, he will endeavor to explain how Muslim societies allocated space to skeptics, agnostics, heretics and political dissenters in a seemingly immutable Islamic paradigm. His analysis will focus on individuals and movements as well as on intellectual and popular trends with the aim of analyzing their rich humanistic and libertarian dimensions. By highlighting the open space given in Muslim societies to social dissenters, the study will demonstrate the historical absence of a monolithic Islam. Furthermore, it will examine how the state and religious authorities were often unwilling or unable to oppose these trends of openness. Amanat intends to produce a book that reaches a wide audience beyond the academic community.

SAID AMIR ARJOMAND

Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology
State University of New York, Stony Brook
Stony Brook, NY

Title: Islam and Constitutional Reconstruction in the Middle East: A Historical and Comparative Perspective

Arjomand has worked extensively in the realm of Islam and is a widely regarded expert in the sociology of constitutionalism. His expertise, most recently, has been called upon to help advise the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan during the drafting of their constitution. He was also selected to be the inaugural Martin & Kathleen Crane Fellow at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Law and Public Affairs. Arjomand’s project will raise the level of debate on Islam and constitutionalism through a historical and institutional examination of the constitutional history of the Middle East. His research will further define issues in the relationship between Islam and constitutionalism by studying the intersection of global trends and the revolutionary and evolutional processes of the Middle East. A range of historically significant settings for constitution-making and constructional change, such as Turkey/Iran and Afghanistan/Iran, will be compared. Revolution, military conquest, and Islamicization based on ideological constitutions will be compared with existing types of legal systems of civil law and common law. Furthermore, Arjomand will examine the transition from the era of ideological constitutions, with the state as social transformer, to a new constitutionalism of the rule of law and human rights, with the law as the protector of civil society. Through a historical sociology of constitutional law in the Islamic Middle East, Arjomand intends to produce a book that moves beyond the current ideological debate, while also providing guidance to policymakers for constitutional reform and institution-building in the Muslim world. He intends to disseminate his book to the general public both in the United States and the Middle East.

RAYMOND BAKER

Professor of International Politics
Trinity College
Hartford, CT

Title: The Contemporary Islamic Wassatteyya (Mainstream): Understanding the Resilience and Appeal of Islam in a Global Age

A scholar, lecturer, educator and leader in the field of Middle-Eastern studies, Baker has done much to promote understanding of the region and Islam both in the United States and abroad. Currently based in Cairo, he serves as president of the International Association of Middle East Studies and is a Board Member of the World Organization of Middle East Studies. Baker’s project will address the following questions: How has the Islamic Awakening become such a force and what are the implications for the West? Through a study of the Wassatteyya, a cultural/institutional configuration that emerged from a unique Islamic historical transition during the Islamic Awakening of the 1970s, Baker will examine how this mainstream centrist movement is a sustaining force of Islamic renewal in the world today. He will explore the mechanisms by which Islamic centrists have formed a network to gain control of leadership while situating themselves in the new globalized world. He will explore how this centrist network can play a positive role in the Islamic Awakening, rejecting violent extremism and forming positive relationships with the globe’s dominant powers. Through his research, Baker intends to guide efforts to prompt a more approachable form of dialogue and cooperation between the West and the Islamic world. He will publish a book accessible to the public and policy makers and share his findings at international and national policy forums.

EVA BELLIN

Associate Professor of Political Science
Hunter College
New York, NY

Title: Arbitrating Identity: High Courts and the Politics of Islamic-Liberal Reconciliation in the Muslim World

A younger scholar, Bellin is regarded as one of the most outstanding scholars in the United States today in the study of the politics of the Middle East, publishing scholarly papers in some of the most competitive peer-reviewed journals in her discipline. She has become a critical participant in the study of politics in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Bellin’s research, which should culminate in a book, aims to explore the roles that high courts play in those states in the Muslim world whose foundational institutions are informed both by their religious identity and their liberal democratic values. She will situate her case studies in Egypt and Pakistan, two countries where the courts play an activist role in reconciling liberal and Islamist traditions. She will investigate the strategies employed by the courts in reconciling these two traditions, as well as explore the institutional, sociological and international factors that help define the justices’ innovative rulings. Bellin aims to elucidate the role that legal elites and institutions may play in forging new paths of cultural reconciliation. With her book, she intends to reach the academic, policymaking and general audiences.

ZVI BEN-DOR BENITE

Assistant Professor of History/Middle East and Islam
New York University
New York, NY

Title: Islam and the Emergence of Modern China

Ben-Dor Benite is a recognized younger scholar, having received several awards and honors, among them, a Fulbright Fellowship, an Edmond Safra Pioneering Student Award and a post-doctoral Fellowship at the Center for Historical Analysis at Rutgers University. Drawing on his rich academic background and on the significant body of work by Chinese Muslim intellectuals, Ben-Dor Benite will explore models for framing and understanding the presence of large Muslim populations in historically and demographically non-Muslim lands. He will also examine to what extent the systems of non-Muslim lands shape the way Muslims are able to integrate into the larger, non-Muslim society. Ben-Dor Benite will provide a fresh lens for the study of Islamic diasporas. He will look at how modern Chinese Muslim intellectuals simultaneously redefined Islam and carved out a new space in the post-imperial context through a careful examination of text and interviews by the students of Pang Shiqian, who translated the Qur’an into Chinese, and Ma Jian, a Confucian scholar turned Islamic Jurist. Ben-Dor Benite’s intended book will reach non-academic audiences, including Muslim diasporas in the United States, Europe and China.

DEVIN DEWEESE

Professor of Central Eurasian Studies
Indiana University, Bloomington
Bloomington, IN

Title: Historical and Critical Perspectives on Islam in Central Asia

DeWeese’s work is uniquely informed by his knowledge of the primary languages of Central Asia, as well as the modern languages of Uzbek and Russian. DeWeese will illuminate the fundamental assumptions, theories and approaches regarding Islam in Central Asia that have shaped U.S. policies toward that region. He will focus on Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, as well as on Afghanistan and the Xingjian province of China. DeWeese aims to inform the discussion of Islam in this region by examining the following three essential deficiencies in the field thus far: the inadequate analysis of Islam as a religion and social system, the lack of attention paid to the specific religious history of Central Asia, and the uncritical acceptance of the frameworks developed for characterizing the religious life that developed under the Soviet establishment.

MARWA ELSHAKRY

Assistant Professor of the History of Science
Harvard University 
Cambridge, MA

Title: Science and Secularism in the Arab World after Darwin

Elshakry has been awarded numerous prestigious grants and fellowships, including the Sultan Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of California at Berkeley and a grant from the British Academy for research in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. With this fellowship, she will continue her research by exploring how Muslim thinkers in Egypt and Greater Syria approached Western science after Darwin. The translations of the new evolutionary sciences prompted debate among Muslim thinkers and the emerging Arab press: they served to catalyze change on numerous social fronts, including religion, social development, cultural advancement, and political struggle. Elshakry will illustrate how Darwinism fostered a spirit of interdisciplinary knowledge-sharing among many Muslim thinkers, as part of the larger incremental debate between science—ilm—and secularism—ilmaniyya. Elshakry will pose three main questions: how did the translation of modern concepts of science reconfigure epistemological and social categories in the Arab world? What were the responses to Darwin’s ideas about the relationship of religion to science and how do they help us understand notions of secularism in this region? And, lastly, how did the discussion of evolutionary science and progress change Muslim thinkers perceptions of Arab society and politics in the recent past? Elshakry will prepare a book and write articles for both scholarly and public audiences.

FAWAZ A. GERGES

Christian A. Johnson Chair in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies
Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, NY

Title: The Intra-Jihadist War

With this Carnegie Scholars award, Gerges, the noted author of books and articles on the Middle East will explore the ways in which the global jihad survives given the intensification of intra-jihadist struggles. Gerges will examine the durability of the larger jihadist movement launched by bin Laden and Zawahiri within the broader Jihad movement in the Middle East. By analyzing the Arab media, jihadi literature, correspondence between jihadis, and interviews with Islamist and jihadi leaders, much of which will be translated into English for the first time, Gerges will assess the future global prospects of the movement. Gerges will illuminate the schisms within the current jihadi movement and explore the shifting perceptions of those who might support or censure it. He will prepare articles for academic journals, newspapers, and magazines and produce a book.

KAMBIZ GHANEABASSIRI

Associate Professor of Religions and Humanities
Reed College
Portland, OR

Title: A History of Islam in America since the Colonial Period

GhaneaBassiri will explore the role of Islam in America and how Muslims proactively participated in the history and pluralism of the United States. GhaneaBassiri will approach Islam in America from a historical, humanistic perspective, examining how Muslims, informed by their historical context, have created American Islamic institutions and how other non-Muslim institutions have been changed by contact with this population. GhaneaBassiri plans research committed to a plain-language view of history focusing on actual events and experiences and will look at the positive interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims as they construct their lives in a common democracy. It is GhaneaBassiri’s hope that by highlighting the agency of Muslim Americans in history, this project will develop a new analytical vocabulary and historical framework that could change the way Islam and modernity are taught.

ELLIS GOLDBERG

Professor of Political Science
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Title: Sovereignty, Community and Citizenship in Contemporary Arab Political Thought

Goldberg is an expert on Egypt and the relationship between Arab Muslim societies and political movements. His scholarship has been published, in numerous prestigious and influential journals around the world, including the Arab language journal, Abwa. He has continuously engaged communities of intellectuals both in the United States and the Middle East with the aim of mutual understanding. With this fellowship Goldberg will continue to explore the issues of national sovereignty, community and citizenship in the current Arab world by examining how three influential intellectuals, from Egypt (Tariq al-Bishri); Morocco (Muhammad Abid al-Jabari); and Lebanon (Ridwan al-Sayyid) have wrestled with this debate in the context of the modern state. Additionally, the ideas of the sovereign state and the role of citizenship will be discussed in light of their European origin and the impact of these discussions on the modern Arab world. Goldberg will bring to Western audiences as yet untranslated works of these three who advised leaders of opposition movements and have attracted widespread public readership throughout the Arab world.

AZIZ HUQ

Associate Counsel
The Brennan Center
New York University
New York, NY

Title: Counter-Terrorism, Speech Regulation and Muslim Minorities in the West

Huq’s past clerkship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and his work with Muslim, Sunni and Shi'ite communities around the world, including some of the most challenging areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, have well positioned him to take on this challenging research topic. Recent terrorist assaults have resulted in more stringent applications of European and North American legal regimes. Such mechanisms, which have been principally used against Muslim minorities, include stricter regulations on freedom of speech and association. Huq will analyze post-September 11th legislation in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France by describing the new counterterrorism powers within legal, historical and political contexts and by examining whether this new legislation accomplishes the goal of curtailing radicalism or instead further marginalizes Muslim minority communities. Huq’s scholarship will combine analysis of the lawfulness of counterterrorist tactics with research on the dynamics of radicalization and religious identity among Muslim minorities. His work will contribute to the current debate by illuminating new understanding of the consequences of legal regulations on minority groups’ speech and association.

MARION HOLMES KATZ

Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Study
New York University
New York, NY

Title: Contesting the Mosque: Debates over Muslim Women’s Ritual Access

Katz will use her Carnegie Scholars award to explore the participation of Muslim women in public congregational prayer and their access to mosques. The research will examine three areas: the fact that Islamic law excludes women from the mosque; Islamic law excludes women from the mosque, but its authoritative sources permit them; and Islamic law permits women access to the mosque, but custom and convenience keep them away. The debate reveals the vigor with which issues of women’s ritual participation have been contested and the complexity of the process by which normative Islamic ritual has been produced. Katz will explore how fitna, a term describing the dangers that may result from feminine powers of seduction, has been used in Islamic legal reasoning in different social and historical contexts. Katz’s research will postulate that Islamic law has been more accommodating to women’s agency than was previously recognized.

CLARK LOMBARDI

Assistant Professor
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Title: Muslim Judges as a New Voice in Islamic Discourse

Lombardi, a professor in Islamic Studies and practicing lawyer, will analyze the ways in which influential judges have interpreted Islamic law informed by civil, common or legal reasoning. Building on his previous research on the evolution of different judicial theories of Islamic laws, Lombardi will examine judicial opinions as expressions of contemporary legal theory in three non-Arab Muslim countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Malaysia. He will explore how modern judges trained in the Western legal systems interpret and apply Islamic laws. The following three questions will be considered: What sources influence judicial understanding of Islam? How does training affect the approach to Islamic legal interpretations? And what factors cause judges to take a more nuanced approach to the interpretation of shari’a and its relationship to other legal traditions? In addition to producing a book, Lombardi will develop a website and give public talks to disseminate the findings of his scholarship.

FARZANEH MILANI

Professor of Persian and Women Studies
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

Title: Re-Mapping the Cultural Geography of Iran: Islam, Woman and Mobility

The past three decades have produced an unprecedented amount of writing about Islam in the West in which the Muslim woman is often a central character. In a familiar story of captivity recast now for a present-day audience, she is incarcerated in segregated spaces and trapped in her veil. And yet, as Milani points out, Muslim women have been very much on the move—a moderating, modernizing force in most Muslim societies. Seeking to analyze the complexities of women’s role in modern Muslim societies, Milani, a recognized scholar of Persian literature and culture, will research the competing narratives of mobility and confinement in Iranian literature. Borrowing from Eastern and Western theories, Milani will employ a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary perspective to pinpoint women’s struggle for freedom/mobility as a concept for social transformation and modernization. The resulting book will provide a study of women’s mobility and its effects on the social structure of modern-day Iran.

YITZHAK NAKASH

Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies
Brandeis University 
Waltham, MA

Title: Governance and Leadership in Modern Islam

Building on his previous work on Shi’ism in the modern Arab world, Nakash, an expert on the modern history of the Iraqi Shi’ites, will examine the greater success of Shi’i clerics in providing religious and sociopolitical leadership to Muslims in Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia since the rise of the modern state in the 20th century. By comparing works of Muslim clerics on state and government in Islam, Nakash will discuss Muslim politics at a time when shifts in geopolitics are challenging clerics’ leadership. His scholarship will explore how Shi’i clerics are better positioned today than their Sunni counterparts to provide leadership to followers, inspire religious and sociopolitical reform in the Arab world, and combat the radicalism of militant Islamists. Nakash’s work will result in a book that illuminates the diverse nature of Muslim politics, the complexity of political Islam, and the capacity of Shi’i and Sunni clerics to act as a force for moderation and reduce tension between Islam and the West.

VALI NASR

Professor of Middle East and South Asia Politics
Department of National Security Affairs
Naval Post Graduate School, 
La Jolla, CA

Title: Gauging the Prospects for the Rise of “Muslim Democratic” Political Parties and Platforms in Muslim Democracies

Nasr, an expert on political and social developments in the Muslim world, will research the following questions: What will be the shape of democracy in the Muslim world? Who will be the likely spokespeople of Islam in the political process? Nasr posits that the “strategic middle,” a term used to describe a new trend of secular political agendas and pragmatic Islamic concerns, will likely dominate Muslim societies. This rise of Muslim democracy reflects the compatibility of Muslim values and ethics with practical election strategies in a democratic setting. Nasr’s project will analyze the make-up of this “strategic middle” by questioning the factors and actors that matter in defining its shape. His preliminary findings suggest that the “strategic middle” in the political arena is created in the context of electoral competition and, although it appeals to Muslim values, is neither defined nor controlled by Islamist forces. Through case studies in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey, with supportive data from Iran, Egypt and Morocco, Nasr’s scholarship, which will result in articles and a book, will move beyond the study of Islamic actions and ideas to include the forming of democratic arenas and the prospects for democratization in the broader Muslim world.

JEN’NAN GHAZAL READ

Assistant Professor of Sociology 
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA

Title: Multiple Identities and Muslim American Political Incorporation

A scholar of U.S. Muslims and Arab Americans, Read, using the only nationally representative data on Muslim Americans to date, will examine factors that affect the political incorporation of Muslim Americans in the United States across racial and ethnic lines. Her project will address the following three questions: To what extent do South Asian, Arab, and African American Muslims differ in their political attitudes and behaviors? To what extent do socioeconomic, demographic and cultural differences between these groups explain variations in their political integration? And, to what extent do the facts that produce differences between groups generate differences within each group? She will also assess how different dimensions of Muslim religious identity influence political engagement, providing a textured discussion of the Muslim American experience. Her work will aim to inform public debate about policies that intend to increase the democratic inclusion of these groups, as well as contribute to the distinction between political attitudes toward U.S. domestic policy and those toward U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. This study will culminate in a book aimed at scholarly, policy and public audiences.

HEATHER J. SHARKEY

Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
University of Pennsylvania 
Philadelphia, PA

Title: Christian Evangelism and Western Imperialism in the Modern Middle East: The Long-Term Consequences of American Missionary Encounters with Muslims

An historian of the Middle East specializing in colonial Africa, the early Islamic world, and modern Islamic thought, Sharkey will examine how Christian missionary work in the 19th and 20th century Middle East contributed to local, regional, and global social changes and affected regional politics. The missionary encounter became a catalyst for the transfer of knowledge and ideas that still can be seen today. In Egypt, for example, the efforts to educate women contributed to a reconfiguration of gender relations. Missionary activity also inadvertently galvanized anti-colonial nationalist Islamist sentiment. Sharkey’s research will also assess the impact of the missionary experience on U.S. Protestant culture, the politics of American churches, and the shaping of Muslim-Christian relations. Her scholarship will result in articles and a book that will illuminate the mutual and ongoing transformations prompted by Christian missionary activities.

ELORA SHEHABUDDIN

Assistant Professor of Humanities and Political Science
Rice University 
Houston, TX

Title: Women at the Muslim Center: Islamist Ideals and Democratic Exigencies

Drawing on a combination of ethnographic research, open-ended interviews and critical textual analysis, Shehabuddin, an expert on gender and Islam, will investigate women’s political and social efforts to reshape Islamist politics. She will explore how women have compelled a rethinking of traditionally conservative and rigid positions on gender issues by studying two self-avowedly Islamist parties in formal democratic political systems: Lebanon’s Hezbollah (Party of God) and Bangladesh’s Jamaat-I Islami (Party of Islam). As these parties vie for central billing on their country’s respective political stage, women have leveraged their voting powers. Central to Shehabuddin’s analysis is the notion that Islamist politics are mutable and can be shaped by external and internal pressures, such as a women’s movement. This scholarship, which will result in a book, builds on Shehabuddin’s previous work on impoverished Bangladeshi women and their involvement in Islamism and secularism. Shehabuddin’s also intends her work to contribute to the understanding of Islam and politics, and the role of increasingly mobilized female citizenry in changing the priorities of Islamist movements.

MADHAVI SUNDER

Professor of Law
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA

Title: The New Enlightenment: How Muslim Women are Bringing Religion and Culture Out of the Dark Ages

A scholar of human rights, legal theory and Islam, Sunder will examine, through case studies of the transformational information-sharing and solidarity network Women Living Under Muslim Laws and the archives of Muslim women’s human rights education manuals, how women in the Muslim world have demanded democracy and rights within religious and cultural, communities not just outside of them. Premised on a centuries-old, Enlightenment compromise that establishes reason in the public sphere but tolerated religious despotism in the private sphere, law continues to define religion in the 21st century as a sovereign, extralegal jurisdiction in which inequality is no only accepted, but expected. Sunder conceptualizes the “New Enlightenment” movement based on women’s right to seek reason, equality, democracy, and liberty not only in the public sphere but also in the private spheres of religion, culture, and family. Sunder’s scholarship will produce a book that applies Enlightenment theory and strategy to constitutional conflicts between Islam and women’s rights and explores a new framework for operationalizing modernity and freedom within culture and community.