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Identity, Politics and the Study of Islam

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Based partly on a series of posts coming out of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion blog, this volume includes greatly expanded essays by Ruth Mas, Sarah Imhoff, James Crossley, and Eleanor Finnegan, as well as new pieces by Devin Stewart, Carlos Segovia, Alexandre Caeiro and Emmanuelle Stefanidis, and Salman Sayyid. This volume, thus, brings together a variety of scholars both inside and outside of Islamic Studies in order to grapple with such questions as: what, if anything, is unique about Islamic Studies? How should Islamic studies as religious studies engage with postcolonial critique? What is the role of identity politics in such endeavors? What are the lines between descriptive (hermeneutic) work and theoretical explanations of Islamic texts? What can scholars in related areas, such as the study of Judaism and early Christianity, offer to this conversation by way of analogy? Can ethical, political, or theological concerns function critically to help theorize Islam?

The volume is divided into three sections: Theory and Identity Politics in the Study of Islam, which looks at the role of issues like race and political commitments among scholars of Islam; Islamic Origins, the Qur’an and Alternative Directions for the Field, dealing with challenges in applying critical-historical methods to the study of the Qur’an and how these methods relate to some of the issues raised by the work of Omid Safi and Aaron Hughes; and Comparative Views from Outside Islamic Studies, which provides a comparative view of how scholars have dealt with similar concerns in the study of Judaism and Christianity.

The final section includes a contribution by Aaron Hughes and an afterword by Willi Braun which treats the previous contributions critically and places them within larger debates in the field.

Published: Oct 1, 2018


Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Matt Sheedy
I. Theory and Identity Politics in the Study of Islam
1. The Modesty of Theory Ruth Mas
2. Critical Muslim Studies and the Crisis of Islamic Studies Salman Sayyid
3. Edge of the Button Eleanor Finnegan
II. Islamic Origins, the Qur'an and Alternative Directions for the Field
4. Knowledge and Power in the Study of Islamic Scripture: Rethinking the Crisis of Western Qur'anic Studies in the Aftermath of 9/11 Alexandre Caeiro, Emmanuelle Stefanidis
5. Identity Politics and Scholarship in the Study of Islamic Origins: The Inscriptions of the Dome of the Rock as a Test Case Carlos Segovia
6. Old Islamic Studies, or a Public Service Announcement Devin Stewart
III. Comparative Views from Outside Islamic Studies
7. Jews, Jewish Studies, and the Study of Islam Sarah Imhoff
8. Is the Grass Greener? A View from Biblical Studies James Crossley
9. A Reply Aaron Hughes
Afterword Willi Braun