Jewish Studies Event
Not only is the Middle East the birthplace of three of the world’s great religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but it is also home to other less well-known religions. Dr. Mina Yazdani will discuss Iran and its ties to the lesser known religions, Zoroastrianism, and the Baha’i Faith, and the mystical interpretation of Islam, Sufism.
Dr. Yazdani is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Eastern Kentucky University. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. Her thesis was entitled, Religious Contentions in Modern Iran, 1881-1941.” Her current research interests focus on Modern Iran and the Islamic World. She has published widely in both English and Persian.
“Specters of War” examines the influence of post-9/11 American military interventions in the Middle East on the production of both American and Arab literature. Focusing on images of ghosts, spectral illusions, the undead and the undying, the talk attempts to locate zones of inter-textual contact where contemporary American and Arab literary voices move past mutual redactions and engage one another’s respective cultural realities. The goal is to both introduce Arab literary voices into the conversation about America’s presence in the Middle East and to interrogate the haunting presence of the Middle East in contemporary American literature. Works discussed will include Ali Bader’s The Tobacco Keeper, Hassan Blasim’s The Corpse Experiment and Other Stories of Iraq, Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s Guantanamo Diary, Theo Padnos’s “My Captivity,” Phil Klay’s Redployment, and Ross Ritchell’s The Knife.
The youth revolts of 2011 and after in the Arab world have permanently changed the face of the region. While most observers have mainly interpreted them through the lens of high politics, this talk argues that the big story here is the rise of a new generation of young Arabs, the Millennials, who have innovated in grassroots organization (including, but not limited to new ways of using social media for politics). It is too soon to know thow he political struggles that they initiated will end. But it is certain that a new generation, with distinctive values and aspirations, has announced its arrival on the scene.
For several decades, studying Islam in Central Asia meant beginning with questions, analytical categories, and conceptual frameworks rooted in Soviet and Russian studies; this approach, combined with a lack of basic understanding of the historical experience of Central Asian Muslims prior to the Soviet era, led to host of misconceptions surrounding the character of Muslim religious life in the Soviet era, the impact of Soviet policies and realities, and trends in the renegotiation of religious identities in the post-Soviet age. Recent years have brought, in some circles, growing awareness of the need for approaches drawn from Islamic studies and from a historically-grounded understanding of the history of Muslim religiosity in Central Asia. This lecture will discuss some of the misconceptions rooted in the ‘Sovietological’ approach to Islam in the region, and the lessons to be drawn from viewing the region through the lens of Islamic studies, with a particular focus on the ways in which religiosity was manifested in Soviet times, and on the ways in which religiosity shaped or interacted with notions of ‘national’ identity.
Professor Devin DeWeese, Indiana University, focuses his teaching and research on the religious history of Islamic Central and Inner Asia, chiefly in the post-Mongol era, with special attention to problems of Islamization, the social and political roles of Sufi communities in the region, and hagiographical literature in Persian and Chaghatay Turkic.
"My Father’s Paradise: How a Jewish Kid from Los Angeles Traveled to Wartime Iraq in Search of Roots, Identity and His Father's Improbable Life Story "
In his talk, Sabar will weave the remarkable story of the Kurdish Jews and their dying Aramaic tongue with the moving tale of how a consumate Californai kid came to write a book about his family's past in Iraqi Kurdistan. The book, "My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq," won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, one of the highest honors in American letters.
Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program
Sponsored by Jewish Studies Program and the Department of History