This month, Edinburgh University Press will publish Twelver Shi’ism: Unity and Diversity in the Life of Islam, 632 to 1722 by Andrew Newman (University of Edinburgh). The publisher’s description follows.
As many as 40 different Shi`i groups existed in the ninth and tenth centuries yet only 3 forms have survived. Why is Twelver Shi`ism one of them?
As the established faith in modern Iran, the majority faith in Iraq and areas in the Gulf and with its adherents forming sizeable minorities elsewhere in the region, it is arguably the most successful branch of Shi’ism. This book charts its history and the development of the key distinctive doctrines and practices which ensured its survival in the face of repeated challenges. It argues that the key to the faith’s endurance has been its ability to institutionalise responses to the changing, often localised circumstances in which the community has found itself, thereby remaining remarkably resilient in the face of both internal disagreements and external opposition.
Next month, the University Press of Colorado will publish The Neo-Indians: A Religion for the Third Millenium by Jacques Galinier (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense) and Antoinette Molinie (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense). The publisher’s description follows.
The Neo-Indians is a rich ethnographic study of the emergence of the neo-Indian movement—a new form of Indian identity based on largely reinvented pre-colonial cultures and comprising a diverse group of people attempting to re-create purified pre-colonial indigenous beliefs and ritual practices without the contaminating influences of modern society.
There is no full-time neo-Indian. Both indigenous and non-indigenous practitioners assume Indian identities only when deemed spiritually significant. In their daily lives, they are average members of modern society, dressing in Western clothing, working at middle-class jobs, and retaining their traditional religious identities. As a result of this part-time status the neo-Indians are often overlooked as a subject of study, making this book the first anthropological analysis of the movement.
Galinier and Molinié present and analyze four decades of ethnographic research focusing on Mexico and Peru, the two major areas of the movement’s genesis. They examine the use of public space, describe the neo-Indian ceremonies, provide analysis of the ceremonies’ symbolism, and explore the close relationship between the neo-Indian religion and tourism. The Neo-Indians will be of great interest to ethnographers, anthropologists, and scholars of Latin American history, religion, and cultural studies.
Next month, Georgetown will publish Vying for Allah’s Vote: Understanding Islamic Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan, by Haroon K. Ullah (U.S. State Department). The publisher’s description follows.
What is driving political extremism in Pakistan? In early 2011, the prominent Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by a member of his own security team for insulting Islam by expressing views in support of the rights of women and religious minorities. Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, was killed by gunfire and explosive devices as she left a campaign event in December 2007; strong evidence links members of extremist organizations to her slaying.
These murders underscore the fact that religion, politics, and policy are inextricably linked in Pakistan. In this book, Haroon K. Ullah analyzes the origins, ideologies, bases of support, and electoral successes of the largest and most influential Islamic parties in Pakistan. Based on his extensive field work in Pakistan, he develops a new typology for understanding and comparing the discourses put forth by these parties in order to assess what drives them and what separates the moderate from the extreme. A better understanding of the range of parties is critical for knowing how the US and other Western nations can engage states where Islamic political parties hold both political and moral authority.
Pakistan’s current democratic transition will hinge on how well Islamic parties contribute to civilian rule, shun violence, and mobilize support for political reform. Ullah’s political-party typology may also shed light on the politics of other majority-Muslim democracies, such as Egypt and Tunisia, where Islamist political parties have recently won elections.
Next month, Macmillan will publish Family Law in Lebanon: Marriage and Divorce Among the Druze by Lubna Tarabey (American University of Beirut). The publisher’s description follows.
Much of the life and ritual of the Druze in Lebanon appears mysterious to outsiders, as this esoteric sect remains closed to non-members. Lubna Tarabey, herself a member of this secretive community, is ideally-placed to offer insight into the family life, tradition and religious practices of the Druze. She reaches back to the 1970s, and the start of a civil war that shattered Lebanon along confessional lines, to explore how the substantial social and political changes that have shaken the country have affected marriage and divorce practices. Through extensive research, she approaches a complex web of change and continuity, of traditional values competing with enhanced individualism and personal freedoms. In Lebanon, family law falls under the authority of its religious courts, and Tarabey traces the ways in which social and legal developments have impacted family law and the internal cohesion of the Druze.
The Washington Post has a story this week about vandalism at a Protestant cemetery in Jerusalem. The vandals toppled stone crosses from graves and smashed them to pieces. The incident is the latest in a string of recent attacks on Christian sites in Israel:
The attack joins a list of high-profile Christian sites that have been vandalized within the past year. They include a Trappist monastery in Latrun, outside Jerusalem, where vandals burned a door and spray-painted “Jesus is a monkey” on the century-old building, a Baptist church in Jerusalem, and other monasteries. Clergymen often speak of being spat at by ultra-Orthodox religious students while walking around Jerusalem’s Old City wearing frocks and crosses.
As to this last fact, Armenian Apostolic priests from the Old City have told me they personally have been spat upon, usually during processions. As the Post report states, the culprits in these spitting incidents, and the suspects in the most recent attack on the cemetery, are students at ultra-orthodox yeshivas. Everyone agrees, according to the Post, that Jewish-Christian in Israel are better than they have been in the past, and that the Israeli police have started to do more to address attacks on Christians. But Christians complain that the attacks continue unabated.
You can read the whole piece here.
Next month, I.B. Tauris will publish The Dynamics of Coexistence in the Middle East: Negotiating Boundaries Between Christians, Muslims, Jews and Samaritans in Palestine, by Julia Droeber (An-Najah University, Palestine). The publisher’s description follows.
Palestine is often viewed, from afar, through the frame of insurmountable difference and violent conflict along religious and ethnic lines. Julia Droeber looks beyond this, as she draws out the way in which sameness and difference is constructed and dealt with in the day to day relationships and practices of different religious communities in the West Bank town of Nablus. She follows the reality of coexistence and the constant negotiation of boundaries between Christians, Muslims and one of the last remaining Samaritan communities worldwide, and how these relationships are complicated by an occupler perceived as ‘Jewish.’ This is a sensitive and nuanced study of cultural and religious space in a much-contested region. It illustrates how differences are reconciled, accommodated and emphasized, while existing alongside a common sense of belonging. Droeber’s findings resonate beyond the town of Nablus, and the West Bank, and into the broader fields of Middle East Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Religion and Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies.
On October 24-25 in New York, the Centro Primo Levi, the NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marim, and the Museum of Tolerance will co-sponsor a conference, “The Lateran Pacts, the Rights of Jews and Other Religious Minorities”:
In view of the upcoming 85th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts and the current debates on the position of the Church toward the Jews during Fascism and World War II, Centro Primo Levi has invited an interdisciplinary group of scholars to closely examine and discuss the legal, social, political and economic aspects of this redefinition of the relations between Church and State in Italy and in totalitarian Europe.
The conference will offer an overview of the Lateran Pacts, the background of negotiations between Mussolini and Pius XI as well as an analysis of the ways the Pacts affected Italian society, the rights of minorities vis-à-vis family law, education, public moral, protection of minority rights, with a particular focus on the subsequent re-organization of the Jewish communities. Scholars will present new research on the changes to the civil and penal codes brought about by the Pacts, as well as the reforms of key public institution that became necessary in order to make them compatible with a state religion.
Looks interesting. Details are here.
As readers of this site know, the situation for Copts and other Christians in Egypt is truly dire. On October 1, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations will hold a hearing on the situation. Speakers include Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church, author Samuel Tadros, and Rutgers Professor Morad Abou-Sabe. The hearing will be webcast live. Details are here.
Francisca Pérez Madrid (University of Barcelona) has organized what looks to be a wonderful conference next month in Jerusalem, “Religious Diversity Governance: Territorial and Personal Law.” The conference will take place at Hebrew University from October 2-4. Here’s the description:
Because we regard the places we live as the centre of our legal structure and relations, the concept of law has always been closely tied to the notion of territory. But because our social life extends beyond the relations each person has with a territory and makes us members of larger communities and social groups, we also need to establish systems of peaceful coexistence. While territoriality and personality are therefore dramatically different legal systems, they can still operate side by side as “communicating vessels” which influence and complement one other like two sides of the same coin and two different ways of applying law.
For countries characterised by internal cultural, ethnic or religious diversity, the possibility that we might make the territorial and the personal principle more mutually compatible becomes particularly interesting and this is where the State of Israel occupies a unique position in the world. Maintaining as it does the Millet system of law, which it inherited from the Ottoman Empire and which grants each of the State’s recognized ethno-religious communities exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction in areas of personal and family law, the question becomes the following: Can the application of the personal principle to diverse groups facilitate peaceful coexistence in a plural state? Our Symposium will seek to answer this and to provide an opportunity to debate the resolution of conflicts in which human rights are put at risk.
The conference program is here.
Earlier this year, Princeton University Press published On the Muslim Question, by Anne Norton (University of Pennsylvania). The publisher’s description follows.
In the post-9/11 West, there is no shortage of strident voices telling us that Islam is a threat to the security, values, way of life, and even existence of the United States and Europe. For better or worse, “the Muslim question” has become the great question of our time. It is a question bound up with others–about freedom of speech, terror, violence, human rights, women’s dress, and sexuality. Above all, it is tied to the possibility of democracy. In this fearless, original, and surprising book, Anne Norton demolishes the notion that there is a “clash of civilizations” between the West and Islam. What is really in question, she argues, is the West’s commitment to its own ideals: to democracy and the Enlightenment trinity of liberty, equality, and fraternity. In the most fundamental sense, the Muslim question is about the values not of Islamic, but of Western, civilization.
Moving between the United States and Europe, Norton provides a fresh perspective on iconic controversies, from the Danish cartoon of Muhammad to the murder of Theo van Gogh. She examines the arguments of a wide range of thinkers–from John Rawls to Slavoj Žižek. And she describes vivid everyday examples of ordinary Muslims and non-Muslims who have accepted each other and built a common life together. Ultimately, Norton provides a new vision of a richer and more diverse democratic life in the West, one that makes room for Muslims rather than scapegoating them for the West’s own anxieties.