Contemporary Muslim Discourses on America:
Perceptions of Self and Other
Call for Papers
We are now accepting abstracts for papers to be
presented at the Critical Islamic Reflections Conference
Saturday, April 1, 2006 at Yale University.
Deadline for Abstract Submission: January 15, 2006
Reference to America is a salient preoccupation of Muslim public
discourse all across the world. The aim of this year’s CIR conference,
conceived as the inverse of last year’s, is to investigate the ways in
which Muslims portray America and Americans. We are seeking papers
which go beyond merely documenting such discourses or pronouncing
judgments on them. Papers should instead examine the context of these
representations, assess their origins and mechanisms, and identify the
sociopolitical or ideological functions they embody.
The conference is organized around two substantive themes. The
examples provided below are not intended to be limiting, but rather
illustrative of the general aims of the conference. CIR invites papers
that speak to any of the following:
I) Emulation or Opposition: The View From Without
Muslim scholars, intellectuals, politicians, and militants have
cultivated a multifaceted critique of the American influence on and
presence in the Muslim world. For many, America symbolizes opportunity
and progress, a nation to emulate or even immigrate to. For others, it
is the embodiment of a civilization at odds with Islamic values,
intruding culturally, economically, and militarily into the Muslim
world. At times, America also becomes a proxy for more general queries
about Islam and modernity. Some views are limited to academic circles
or privileged elites, while others gain wider acceptance amongst
popular audiences; and yet others are shared across all strata of
We are looking for commentary on the ways in which academic,
religious, and popular portrayals of America have been constructed and
how these images relate to Muslim identity. What kinds of interests do
they serve? How have such widely varying perceptions emerged, and what
are their impacts on current affairs? What personalities advocate
particular representations of America, and from which segments of
society do they draw support? Papers in this category may approach the
topic either through an analysis of individuals such as Shirin Ebadi,
Mahathir Mohammad, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, or Osama bin Laden, or through
institutions such as the al-Azhar University or al-Jazeera Television.
II) Insider Insights: The View From Within
The location of discourse unquestionably influences perceptions of
self and other, hence the need for particular attention to
representations of America originating from those who see themselves
as “American Muslims”, broadly defined. The sizeable population of
Muslims in the United States is comprised of both indigenous and
immigrant communities, representing diverse cultures and a variety of
domestic and international interests.
What are the competing discourses on America, critical or sympathetic,
amongst the various Muslim voices within the United States? Is it
possible to identify distinct currents of thought – such as liberal
assimilation, respectful idealization, traditional reassertion or even
defiant polemicism – with specific segments, subcultures, or
generations within the American Muslim population? Where do the fault
lines lie, and why and how do they arise? Are there points of
convergence where the multiple voices remain unanimous? Again, papers
may choose to focus on individuals such as Malcolm X, Hamza Yusuf,
Khaled Abou El-Fadl, or Amina Wadud, or groups such as the Islamic
Society of North America (ISNA) or the Progressive Muslim Union (PMU).
GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSION
Please submit abstracts of 500 words or less by January 15, 2006.
Successful candidates will be informed of their selection by January
30, 2006. Papers must be ready for online posting by March 20, 2006.
The conference will be held at Yale University on April 1, 2006.
Submissions of abstracts and papers will only be accepted
electronically. Please direct them as MS Word attachments to:
. Further inquiries may also be made at this email
Please forward this call for papers to anyone interested in
contributing a paper or attending the conference.
For more information go to: http://www.yale.edu/cir/