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“Pursuit of Authority in Post-19th Century Iraq,” Prof Ahmad Shekarchi

“Pursuit of Authority in Post-19th Century Iraq”
Prof Ahmad Shekarchi from Shahid Behesti University, Tehran.
Discussant: Zach Winters

Time: Tuesday May 26, 12noon-1.30pm
Location: Franke Institute for the Humanities (1st floor, inside the Regenstein Library building, 1100 E 57th St, Chicago, IL 60637)

In our last event of the year, the Shiʿi Studies Group is happy to welcome Prof Shekarchi from the sociology department of Shahid Behesti University, Tehran. This is a rare opportunity to interact with an Iranian scholar working on twentieth century and contemporary Iraq.

Professor Shekarchi will be around in Chicago from May 22nd, and would be very happy to meet with local students and faculty. If you are interested in making contact with Prof Shekarchi, please send an email to

This talk is given in conjunction with this year’s Shiʿi Studies symposium on Authority in Shiʿi Islam. It is organized by the Shiʿi Studies group, sponsored by the MEHAT workshop, the Islamic Studies workshop, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, workshop and the Persian circle.

This event is free and open to the public.

Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should email

Posted in Upcoming Events.

Karen Rhone, “Legacies of Reform in Islam”

Thursday, May 21 ▪ 4:30pm ▪ Swift 201

Karen Rhone (Political Science)

“Legacies of Reform in Islam”

with a response by Tim Gutmann (Divinity School)

Posted in Upcoming Events.

“Characterizing Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World” conference

Come to the conference co-sponsored by the Islamic Studies Workshop, Tuesday-Thursday May 12-14, 2015, held at the Divinity School 3rd Floor lecture room.

Visit for the full schedule.

This conference  will use the particular case study of astrology as a means to study the broader implications of boundary-work. It will examine the intersections among science, the occult, and the religious cultures that lived in the medieval Islamic world—including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. The conference hopes to complicate the categories of magic, science, and religion by looking at how boundaries between these fields were articulated by medieval scholars. Boundary-work, by its very nature, is interdisciplinary; the conference will bring together scholars of religious studies, history, sociology, art, and science studies to collectively examine the chosen case study of astrology. By looking at practices of, categorizations of, and debates surrounding astrology in the medieval Islamic world, the conference hopes to shed light on the broader questions of when, where, why, and how definitions and boundaries are established between science, magic, and religion.

Posted in Upcoming Events.

Bertie Kibreah, “Banter and Bricolage at the Burial Chamber: Negotiating Mystical Song in Bangladesh”

Thursday, April 30 ▪ 4:30pm ▪ Swift 201

Bertie Kibreah (Music, UChicago)

“Banter and Bricolage at the Burial Chamber: Negotiating Mystical Song in Bangladesh”

Food and drink will be provided.

Posted in Upcoming Events.

Elias Muhanna (Brown University), “Digital Scholarship in Islamic Studies: A Workshop”

Next Thursday, April 16, the Islamic Studies Workshop will be bringing Prof. Elias Muhanna to UChicago in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Forum.

*For those interested in attending the workshop, Prof. Muhanna has created a brief survey to help him prepare the curriculum for the workshop.  Please submit the survey by Monday, April 13: *

Thursday, April 16 ▪ 4:30pm-6:30pm ▪ Swift 201
Elias Muhanna (Brown University)
“Digital Scholarship in Islamic Studies: A Workshop”

Prof. Muhanna heads the Digital Islamic Humanities Project at Brown University.  He will be leading a practical workshop on finding and using digital resources for research in Islamic Studies related fields.  As always, pizza and drinks will be provided.

The Islamic Studies Workshop members are also invited to attend Elias Muhanna’s talk at the Digital Humanities Forum event, which will be taking place earlier the same day.  Details below:

Our first Digital Humanities Forum of the spring quarter will be taking place next week, on April 16 (Thursday), from 12:00 to 2:00pm in JRL 122. Please note the change from our usual day. Our speaker is Elias Muhanna, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University, who will speak on the following topic: “Elements of Style: Modeling Mannerism in Classical Arabic Poetry.” Please feel free to forward this information to anyone who might be interested. As always, lunch will be served.

As a highly patterned literary form, classical Arabic poetry represents a discourse that is particularly well suited to digital modes of analysis. The conventions of rhyme, meter, and genre conspire, together with a Semitic root-based morphology, to natively configure a literary archive in ways that invite distant reading. This talk will discuss the results of a research project that aims to map various literary embellishments associated with the so-called “innovative” (badīʿ) style of classical Arabic poetry, across a corpus of several thousand poems. I would like to suggest that this method opens up interesting avenues to revisit some old questions about nature and artifice, originality and derivativeness, clarity and mannerism in poetic production.

Posted in Upcoming Events.

“The Practical Authority of the Imams and their Representatives”

Shiʿi Studies Symposium, “The Practical Authority of the Imams and their Representatives”

Friday-Saturday, April 3-4 ▪ Swift Hall Common Room
website and schedule:

co-sponsored by the Islamic Studies Workshop (among others)

Posted in Upcoming Events.

Mohamad Ballan, “The Politics of Islamic Ecumenism in the Afsharid Empire, 1736-1746″

Thursday, April 2 ▪ 4:30pm ▪ Swift 201

Mohamad Ballan (History, UChicago)

“The Politics of Islamic Ecumenism in the Afsharid Empire, 1736-1746”

with a response by Austin O’Malley (NELC)

Posted in Upcoming Events.

Elias Saba, “Systems and Taxonomies in Islamic Legal Thinking: Comments on Ḥanafī distinctions (furūq) literature”

Islamic Studies Workshop will be co-sponsoring the MEHAT workshop on Tuesday, March 10, at noon, in Pick 218:

Elias Saba, a graduate student in NELC at the University of Pennsylvania, will present “Systems and Taxonomies in Islamic Legal Thinking: Comments on Ḥanafī distinctions (furūq) literature.”

Mariam Sheibani of NELC will be discussant.

Posted in Upcoming Events.

Master’s week, featuring Allison Kanner, Alex Matthews, and Nora Zaki

Thursday, March 5 ▪ 4:30pm ▪ Swift 201

Master’s week, featuring:

Allison Kanner (Divinity), “Shaykhs and Shaykhas of the Shaykh al-Akbar in the Tarjuman al-Ashwaq

Alex Matthews (Divinity), “Neoplatonic Thought in Ismaili Shi’ism”

Nora Zaki (Divinity), “The Evolution in Meaning of the Qur’ānic Khalīfa”

Posted in Upcoming Events.

Austin O’Malley, “Allegory and Symbolic Action in ʿAṭṭâr’s Moṣibat-nâma”

Friday, February 27 ▪ noon ▪ Swift 201

*please note the date/time change!*

Austin O’Malley (NELC)

“Allegory and Symbolic Action in ʿAṭṭâr’s Moṣibat-nâma”

with a response by Francesca Chubb-Confer (Divinity)

Posted in Upcoming Events.