This Unit is a home for the academic study of Islam within the AAR. This Unit encompasses various approaches and subjects, from Qur’anic studies to modern reform movements and from textual research to sociology. The Unit also has enduring interests in pedagogical issues associated with the teaching of Islam and prioritizes, through two signature sessions, mentoring of early-career scholars. The purpose of the Unit is both to provide a forum for dialogue among differing approaches and projects within Islamic studies and also to provide opportunities for the discussion of work that affects the overall field of the study of religion. We normally meet for five to seven sessions at each Annual Meeting. We often coordinate our work with other Islam-related AAR Program Units, including the Contemporary Islam Unit, the Islam, Gender, Women Unit, the Islamic Mysticism Unit, Teaching Islamophobia Unit, and the Qur’an Unit.
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Study of Islam Unit
Call for Proposals
This Unit encourages individual paper, paper session, and roundtable proposals in all areas of Islamic studies. Successful proposals will reflect theoretical and methodological sophistication and engagement with existing scholarship along with innovative examination of Muslim practices, texts, and material culture in diverse contexts and geographies. We encourage the submission of coherent pre-arranged sessions involving multiple scholars, and these could include roundtable or other creative presentation formats.
As an explicit requirement of our Unit, a successful pre-arranged session or panel proposal must incorporate gender diversity. Diversity of race and ethnicity, theoretical method, and rank are also highly encouraged.
If your proposal is accepted and you agree to be on the program, we expect you to show up to participate in your session at the Annual Meeting, barring unforeseeable exceptional circumstances. Please note that the Islamic studies program Units have a policy according to which no-shows may be barred from the program for the following year.
For the 2022 meeting in Denver, we are also especially interested in paper and/or panel proposals on:
- The Qur’an and the Sunna, law, philosophy, theology, mysticism, ritual, gender and sexuality, modernity and globalization, and other areas of general interest. Furthermore, we encourage proposals dealing with Shi’ism within and across these areas, as well as other forms of Islam that have been rendered marginal or peripheral.
- Graduate Student session: This special session will offer graduate students the opportunity to present for 5 minutes on their dissertation research, followed by short responses from other panelists and open discussion. If you are an advanced graduate student and interested in talking succinctly about your research in this session, please submit a paper proposal through the PAPERS system with the abstract and proposal the same text and length (maximum 150 words) and indicate that your submission is for this special session format at the top of the proposal.
- In light of the 2022 presidential theme on Religion and Catastrophe, we welcome proposals on how “crisis” and “catastrophe” are framed, understood, responded to, and dealt with in Muslim contexts and imaginations -- whether through attention to wellbeing and healing, practices of mourning and coping, apocalyptic imaginaries, collective mobilization, and so on.
- We are also looking for submissions reflecting on the current state and the future of Islamic Studies, in light of broader economic and political developments (at the national and global scales). We specifically would encourage reflections on the place of Islamic Studies both within the academy and beyond (that is, the role of Islamic Studies in the broader public, as well as engaging the global academic study of Islam outside the confines of Euro-American academia).
- We encourage proposals that take new digital media as an explicit object of study and reflection. Methodological reflections on studying Islam and Muslims through social media, digital archives and ethnography, and other digital mediums. We are specifically thinking about such methodological questions in light of how many people’s research has been affected by the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To balance the AAR’s presidential theme of “catastrophe” we invite submissions on “happiness” and “joy” in Muslims religious and social lives. Areas of exploration could include playfulness and levity in Muslim piety, Islamic imaginations of futurism and the fantastical, such as Muslim science fiction, dystopia/utopia, and fantasy fiction, Muslim romance and erotic relations, or other areas.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Shatha Almutawa, Willamette University1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Samah Choudhury, Ithaca College1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Francesca Chubb-Confer, University of Chicago1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Shankar Nair, University of Virginia1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Kristian Petersen, Old Dominion University1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023