World Conference Calendar

35118 Conferences

How Ideas Win: Formations of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy In Muslim Practice and Thought

Added by admin on 2010-12-05

Conference Dates:

Start Date Start Date: 2011-02-19
Last Date Last Day: 2011-02-20
Deadline for abstracts/proposals Deadline for abstracts/proposals: 2011-01-05

Conference Contact Info:

Contact Person Contact Person: Ali Mian
Email Email:
Address Address: FedEx Global Education Center, UNC-CH, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, United States

Conference Description:

“Wherever Muslims have the power to regulate, uphold, require, or adjust correct practices, and to condemn, exclude, undermine, or replace incorrect ones, there is the domain of orthodoxy.” --Talal Asad

“It is -- to use that word with all its difficulties in an Islamic context -- the ‘orthodoxy’. But changes in ‘orthodoxy’ have always come about by a cumulative pressure that continues to build up outside its nucleus, and when a critical mass is reached the nucleus ‘re-forms’ itself." --Fazlur Rahman

While scholars positioned both inside and outside the Islamic tradition have long classified strands of thought and practice within that tradition as either orthodox or heterodox, many voices in contemporary academia have instead become interested in understanding the socio-political processes that go into this labeling. They are considering orthodoxy not in terms of an essential and unified core, but as an emergent and contested category. By looking at how this category comes into being and shifts across time and place, they seek to understand the function of power and agency as key elements in the formation, evolution, and dissolution of orthodoxies.

The theme of our conference, “How Ideas Win,” is aimed at generating interdisciplinary discussion around the formation and function of orthodox and heterodox views and practices across Islamicate history. Specifically we are interested in considering how orthodox concepts and practices are established through exclusive claims to validity and authenticity, and how these claims are contested and shift over time. We ask the following questions: How is tradition imagined and invoked in laying claim to authenticity? How is orthodoxy maintained or transformed through readings of texts and contexts? How are these debates fashioned by the broader discursive systems and cultural, economic, and political structures within which they arise? How does the concept of orthodoxy condition debates over embodied practice? How is orthodoxy invoked in different contexts by the same or similar figures? Is heterodoxy a mere byproduct of orthodoxy or is it self-consciously employed?

We are interested in papers that explore a variety of themes and topics in the study of Islam and the Islamicate through the lens of emerging orthodoxies and contested hegemonies. Thus, we encourage papers from a range of disciplines and interdisciplines (including but not limited to: religious studies, history, anthropology, sociology, law, political science, literature, communications, philosophy, and geography) that examine such questions across historical and contemporary Islamicate contexts. We are also interested in reflexive studies on how the contemporary academy has defined orthodoxy and tradition.

Possible themes for papers include, but are not limited to:
• Institutions of religious learning
• The role of the schools of law and dissipating authority
• Neo-traditionalism in the modern religious imaginary
• The `ulama’ and competing religious authorities
• The formation of majority and minority legal views
• Political Islam and modernist engagements with tradition
• Conceptions of self and other
• Muslim resistance to cultural hegemony and globalization
• Muslim political and cultural hegemonies
• Colonial encounters and cultural authenticity
• Muslim minorities’ invocations and appropriations of tradition
• Normative masculinity and femininity
• Discursive formations of sex, body, and pleasure
• Academic orientations in the study of Islam

These are of course broad themes and topics, each of which can and should be framed in dialogue with the analytic lens suggested above.

As a hallmark of the Duke-UNC Islamic Studies Conference, we will provide opportunity for interactive, deliberative, and interdisciplinary engagement with scholarly work in progress by setting this gathering in an intimate workshop format. We expect that those invited to present papers will remain for the duration of the conference in order to engage the other participants in a true exchange of ideas. Lunch and refreshments will be provided on both days and a formal dinner will be held on Saturday night.

Limited financial assistance to cover travel expenses may be available to those who demonstrate financial need and are not receiving funding from their home institutions.
To apply, please send the following to
* paper title
* proposal of no more than 500 words
* CV
* brief biographical sketch

The deadline for submissions is January 5th, 2011.
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