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Call for Papers :: Sectarian Identity and Community Formation in Islam

July 22, 2018

The University of Chicago Shiʿi Studies Group Symposium

Call for Papers (CFP):

“Sectarian Identity and Community Formation in Islam”

Abstract Submission Deadline: July 22nd 

Symposium Date: October 26-27, 2018

How did sectarian identities come to be formed in the Islamic context and how has the concept of “sectarianism” changed in the context of Shi‘i Islam over time? Given the modern and historical importance of sectarian identity in the Muslim world, the University of Chicago’s Shi‘i Studies Group is hosting this year’s annual symposium on “Sectarian Identity and Community Formation in Islam.” We invite papers looking at a broader range inter-Islamic sectarian issues and how perspectives from theology, politics, sociology and other disciplines can help approach larger questions of identity, doctrine, and popular beliefs.

How do developments in the sectarian identity of Sunni Islam impact our understanding of Shiʿism, and vice-versa? How have Shi‘i communities developed – or, at times, chosen to reject – markers of communal difference? We welcome contributions from scholars and graduate students working on these questions from any relevant scholarly perspective, including social, intellectual and political history, anthropology, sociology, political science, area studies, literature, and religious studies.

Papers will be accepted which focus on both modern and pre-modern subject areas, and might address – but are by no means limited to – topics such as the following:

  • Polemical texts which sought to emphasize communal differences from various political and social contexts in Islamic history;
  • Periods in which sectarian debates have played a less prominent role, being abandoned in favor of more fluid conceptions of Islamic confessional allegiances;
  • Ways in which Shi‘i communal identities have been experienced and expressed by means of popular, day-to-day religious observance;
  • Historical political disputes which have been framed as being sites of sectarian tension including, for example, the Ottoman-Safavid rivalry, and how these conflicts may be studied in terms of communal identity;
  • Comparative studies on how a distinctly “Shi‘i” identity was conceived by various groups within Shi‘ism, including Zaydis, Twelvers, Isma‘ilis, and Alawis, in both historical and modern contexts.

Format of the Symposium

Presenters will be requested to present for 10-15 minutes followed by additional time for moderated discussion between panelists and the audience. Abstracts of around 300 words along with a CV should be submitted by July 22nd, 2018. Send abstracts to Mohammad Sagha at [email protected], with the words “UChicago Shiʿi Studies Symposium Application” in the subject line.

About the Symposium

The University of Chicago Shiʿi Studies Symposium is an endeavor of the Shiʿi Studies Group, established in 2010, to provide an interdisciplinary, non-area-specific forum for the discussion of research on Shiʿism by faculty and graduate students at the University and beyond. The annual symposium aims to strengthen the field of Shiʿi Studies by bringing together a group of both senior and early-career scholars to present research and to cultivate an environment for intellectual discussion and collaboration. At each symposium we aim to address a focused set of questions with cross-cutting relevance to scholars working on various periods and from various disciplinary perspectives. Organizers: Mohammad Sagha and Zach Winters.

See  https://shii-studies-sites.uchicago.edu/ for more details on our past and future events.


July 22, 2018
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