The Middle East Institute
606 West 122 Street
Knox Hall - Third Floor
New York, New York 10027
Mail Code 9640
The Middle East Institute of Columbia University, founded in 1954, has helped to set the national pace in developing an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the present, with a primary focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. Fostering an inter-regional and multi-disciplinary approach to the region, the Institute focuses on the Arab countries, Armenia, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Central Asia, and Muslim Diaspora communities.
The Institute sponsors approximately 30 lunch-time talks per year on topics ranging from art and literature to current events, hosts conferences, and provides a neutral atmosphere for scholarly and student exchanges of views on issues concerning the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. It offers courses and outreach seminars to teachers and adult education groups, briefs journalists, and generally acts as a clearing-house for requests for information on the region and its peoples by the media, educational professionals, and the interested public, drawing upon the expertise of its own staff and the faculty of the School of International and Public Affairs and Columbia University.
Events – FALL 2016
Time: 4:10 pm - 6:00 pm
Location: 80 Claremont Ave, Room 101
Making Moderate Islam in America: the History Behind a Contemporary Debate
Drawing on a decade of research into the community that proposed the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque," IRCPL’s Visiting Scholar Rosemary R. Corbett refutes the idea that current demands for Muslim moderation have primarily arisen in response to the events of 9/11, or to the violence often depicted in the media as unique to Muslims. Instead, she places such demands in the context of decades of pressure on religious and racial minorities to conform to dominant American frameworks for race, gender, and political economy.
Rosemary R. Corbett is a Faculty Fellow with the Bard Prison Initiative and has a PhD in Religion from Columbia University with a focus on Islam in the United States. She has previously held positions as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University, and most recently a Young Scholar in American Religion with the Center for the Study of American Religion at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. Her research involves examining how racial and religious minorities navigate U.S. Protestant-derived norms by forming shifting alliances around civic or political issues, and her forthcoming manuscript -- Muslims in the Middle: Service, Sufism, and "Moderate" American Muslims after 9/11 -- is under contract with Stanford University Press. In addition to works in edited volumes, her publications appear (under the names of Rosemary R. Corbett and Rosemary R. Hicks) in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (forthcoming, 2015); the journal Religion; The Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, American Quarterly, Comparative Islamic Studies; and the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (2004, New Scholar Award).
This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.
Time: 4:10 pm - 6:00 pm
Location: 457 Schermerhorn Extension
Declarations of Friendship: Nonviolence and the Concept of the Political in the Middle East
The resumption of warfare between the Turkish state and the pro-Kurdish PKK has led, again, to calls for ceasefire and nonviolent resolutions to entrenched political problems. What ethical imaginaries underlie these calls for nonviolence? In what ways are the ethical horizons developed in these calls concordant with or discomfiting for a liberal understanding of human rights? Stanford University’s Kabir Tambar builds on scholarship that has critiqued the anti-political effects of liberalism, but questions whether that critique suffices for understanding the demands of nonviolence today. The lecture will focus on the role of what Tambar terms "declarations of friendship," efforts by populations who are targeted as enemies of the state to proclaim their historical fidelity to the state’s foundation and preservation. While such declarations of friendship re-inscribe the rigid and often violently statist narrative of politics, Tambar will examine how their mode of address also enables creative and novel ethical possibilities.
Kabir Tambar is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. He is a sociocultural anthropologist, working at the intersections of political anthropology and the anthropology of religion. His first book, The Reckoning of Pluralism: Political Belonging and the Demands of History in Turkey, is a study of the politics of pluralism in contemporary Turkey, focusing on the ways that Alevi religious history is staged for public display. More generally, the book investigates how secular states govern religious differences through practices of cultural and aesthetic regulation. Tambar is currently working on a new project that examines the politics and ethics of nonviolence in Turkey.
This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; the Department of Anthropology; the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.
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