The annual American Academy of Religion conference is being held this coming weekend (Nov. 19-22) in San Francisco.

As part of the Rethinking Islamic Studies Series, Gordon Newby (Emory Univ.) and I have organized a pre-conference workshop entitled Gender, Sexuality and Bodies in the Text. In the workshop, Newby, Aisha Geissinger (Carleton Univ.), Kecia Ali (Boston Univ.), Richard McGregor (Vanderbilt Univ.), Karen Ruffle (Univ. of Toronto), and Sadiyya Shaikh (Univ. of Cape Town) with Scott Kugle (Emory Univ.) will be leading discussions on how they read for issues of gender, sexuality, and bodies in primary source material. Each table leader will be bringing some of her or his own work, including selections from his or her primary sources (in the original and translation) and take participants through her or his process of reading texts for issues concerning gender and sexuality.  Then, several participants at each table will share some of their of own primary source material (in the original and translation) for the group to read though together.  At the end of the afternoon, each of the tables will be asked to share their observations with everyone for a group discussion. We hope the process will generate a lively conversations about the methods, and even the salience, of reading gender, sexuality, and bodies in the sources and foster a collaborative intellectual atmosphere.  Sponsored by the Islamic Mysticism Group and the Qur’an Group (see below for table presentation titles).

The Islamic Mysticism Group will be holding two panel sessions and co-sponsoring a third.

“‘It’s Not Made by Great Men’: Sufism Understood from the Side of the People,” “The Fall of the Image:  Finding and Losing Oneself through Iconoclasm,” and, co-sponsored with the Study of Islam Section, “Sufism after the Linguistic Turn.” (see below for presenters and their paper titles, presiders, and respondents)


Rethinking Islamic Studies Series: Gender, Sexuality and Bodies in the Text

  • Laury Silvers, University of Toronto, Presiding
  • Gordon D. Newby, Emory University “Murû’ah and Dîn Revisited: Late Ancient Legacies of Maleness in Islamic Foundational Texts”
  • Aisha Geissinger, Carleton University “Gendering Human and Textual Bodies: Reading the Kitab al-Janna in the Sahih Muslim”
  • Kecia Ali, “Gender and Sexuality in Islamic Legal Texts”
  • Richard McGregor, Vanderbilt University “Contesting Iconoclasm: Bodies and Violence as Problems for Comparative Religion”
  • Karen G. Ruffle, University of Toronto “The Bleeding Tree in the Garden of Eden: The Construction of the Shi’i  Body through Discourse of Exceptional Difference”
  • Scott A. Kugle, Emory University, and Sa’diyya Shaikh, University of Cape Town, “Reading Gender in Sufi Sources”

“It’s Not Made by Great Men”: Sufism Understood from the Side of the People

  • Vernon James Schubel, Kenyon College, Presiding
  • Erik S. Ohlander, Indiana University–Purdue University, “Travel and Exchange in the Sufi Mediterranean: The Extraordinarily Ordinary Case of Ibn al-Qastallani”
  • Noah Salomon, Carleton College, “The People of Sudan Love You, Oh Messenger of God”: Sufi Pop and the Problem of Religious Pluralism in Prepartition Sudan”
  • Sarwar Alam, Fayetteville, “Neglecting the Holy, Risking the Heaven: Rethinking the Analogy of Corpse and Corpse Washer Between the Disciples and Sufi Masters in the Politics of Modern Bangladesh”
  • Brannon Ingram, University of North Carolina, “Anyone Can Be a Saint: Sufi Ethics and Mass Sainthood among the Deobandi ‘Ulama”

The Fall of the Image: Finding and Losing Oneself through Iconoclasm

  • Laury Silvers, University of Toronto, Presiding
  • Mohammed Rustom, Carleton University, “Mulla Sadra on Idol-Smashing”
  • Elizabeth R. Alexandrin, University of Manitoba, “‘Kill or Cure’: Corporeality in the Sufi Works of Shams al-Din al-Daylami”
  • Richard McGregor, Vanderbilt University, “Images and Others: Sufi Iconoclasm and the Problem of Comparative Religion”
  • Responding: Erik Ohlander, Indiana University-Purdue University

Sufism after the “Linguistic Turn”

  • Carl W. Ernst, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Presiding
  • Vincent Cornell, Emory University
  • Scott A. Kugle, Emory University
  • Rkia Cornell, Emory University
  • Amanullah De Sondy, University of Miami
  • Sa’diyya Shaikh, University of Cape Town
  • Responding: Dale B. Martin, Yale University