Graduate Student Conference: Islam and the Modern State

Islam and the Modern State Graduate Student Conference
7-8 April, 2016, Evanston, IL

The Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University is hosting a graduate student conference that examines how modern states exist in tension with the practices, institutions, and sensibilities associated with Islam. This interdisciplinary conference draws together advanced graduate students and senior scholars to probe the enduring entanglement of religion and modernity, and to understand how this entanglement bears on contemporary debates about modern statehood.

Panels investigate:

  • how states grapple with nationalism, neo-liberalism, and secularism in relation to local and global iterations of Islam;
  • the strategies that individuals and communities employ to subvert, comply with, or otherwise amend state sovereignty and its projects to cultivate ideal citizens;
  • and the modes through which the Islamic tradition is being transformed as a result of these processes.

Graduate Student Participation

  • Emma LeBlanc (Institute of Social & Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University)
  • Samuel Kigar (Graduate Program in Religion, Duke University)
  • Youcef Soufi (Study of Religion, University of Toronto)
  • Timothy Gutmann (University of Chicago Divinity School)
  • Maryam Rutner (Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, New York University)
  • Farah El-Sharif (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, Harvard University)
  • Sher Afgan Tareen (Religious Studies, Florida State University)
  • Zubair Ahmad (Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures & Societies, Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Bilal Nasir (Anthropology, Northwestern University)
  • Meral Kocak (Harvard Divinity School)
  • Joud Alkorani (Study of Religion, University of Toronto)
  • Hosna Sheikholeslami (Anthropology, Yale University)
  • Nazli Ozkan (Anthropology, Northwestern University)
  • Hafsa Kanjwal (History, University of Michigan)
  • Annelle Sheline (Political Science, George Washington University)
  • Ali Hussain (Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan)
  • Sadaf Hasnain (Anthropology, Northwestern University)
  • Guillermo Martín-Sáiz (Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis)

Faculty Involvement

The keynote address will be given by Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame with appointments in the Department of History and the Kroc Institute for International Studies in the Keough School of Global Affairs.

The following faculty will provide comments on the conference papers:

  • Alireza Doostdar (University of Chicago Divinity School)
  • Mohammad Fadel (University of Toronto Faculty of Law)
  • Mayanthi Fernando (Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz)
  • Haider Ala Hamoudi (University of Pittsburgh School of Law)
  • Naveeda Khan (Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University)
  • Rudolph Ware (History, University of Michigan)

Conference Organizers

  • Mona Oraby is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University. Her research investigates the legal regulation and administration of religious difference in the contemporary Middle East.

  • Bilal Nasir is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology and part of the Initiative for Comparative Race and Diaspora at Northwestern University. His research examines the intersection between racialization, social movements, and Islamic learning among Muslim youth in the greater Los Angeles area.

  • Nathaniel Mathews is a Ph.D. candidate in History at Northwestern University. He works on the history of modern citizenship, ethnicity and the nation-state in Zanzibar, Oman and the Swahili Coast.
  • Nurhaizatul Jamil is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on Muslim women’s participation in Islamic self-help classes in contemporary Singapore.

For inquiries regarding this event, please contact

Cover image: Mitra Tabrizian, Tehran 2006, 2006, 42 x 120 inches, light jet type C photograph, edition of 5 + 2AP. Courtesy of the artist.