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NYU Conference: Contact and Convergence

May 10, 2019 - May 11, 2019

“Contact and Convergence: An Interdisciplinary Conference in Islamic Studies”

How might different disciplines approach similar central questions? How does a well-established academic field integrate new technological and methodological approaches? And how might these new approaches encourage greater engagement with diverse scholarly voices and the public at large?

Please register here: https://isnyu2019.weebly.com/

May 10th (Location TBD) – Open to All

6:00-8:00 pm: Keynote: New Museological Approaches to Islam and Islamic Art

Interest in the Islamic world and its art and culture is burgeoning, as new museums and permanent galleries devoted to displaying it proliferate across the globe. At the same time that an unprecedented number of museums present “Islamic art,” scholars within the field have questioned the coherence of the category of Islamic art or Islamic culture. The most challenging critiques have focused on the typical geography of art labeled Islamic, its chronology, and its relationship to religion. This panel brings together several curators and scholars who have worked on recent exhibits that address these questions in different ways, at the Metropolitan Museum, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler galleries and the Brooklyn Museum.

  • Dr. Navina Haidar (Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah Curator Department of Islamic Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)
  • Dr. Hussein Rashid (Founder of Islamicate and Academic Advisor to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan Exhibit, NY)
  • Dr. Simon Rettig, Assistant Curator (Arts of the Islamic World, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC)
  • Dr. Ayşin Yoltar-Yıldırım (Hagop Kevorkian Associate Curator of Islamic Art, Brooklyn Museum, NY)


  • Prof. Abigail Balbale (Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, NYU)

8:00-9:30 pm: Dinner Reception

May 11th (Ettinghausen Library in NYU’s Kevorkian Center) – Registration Required

8:30-9:30 am: Light Breakfast

9:30-11:00 am: Sectarianism in Interdisciplinary Perspective

Public discourse often casts sectarianism as one of the most pressing political problems of the Middle East and broader Islamic world, as elsewhere. While recent critical scholarship has productively critiqued essentialist readings of sectarianism, this panel asks what how scholars in different fields approached the question methodologically, and how these differences shape our understanding of sects and sectarianism. As an interdisciplinary object of study, how can we approach sectarianism without reproducing ‘methodological sectarianism’, or reinforcing essentialism and exceptionalism? How can we productively make connections between the study of sectarianism and other theories or scholarly studies of difference such as race or gender?


  • Prof. Ayse Baltacioglu-Brammer (History & MEIS, NYU)
  • Prof. Maya Mikdashi (Anthropology, Rutgers)
  • Dr. Fanar Haddad (Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore)


  • Arran Robert Walshe (PhD Student, NYU)

11:00-11:30 am: Coffee Break

11:30-1:00 pm: Digital Humanities in Islamic Studies

Over the past few decades, Islamic Studies scholarship has been impacted by the incorporation of technological advances and tools. By using digital applications for visual imaging, modeling, mapping, and text and data mining, scholars are now able to analyze and reconstruct their corpus beyond the limitations of traditional methodologies. This panel will open a broad discussion about what new questions can be raised and addressed through these digital techniques. How do these new approaches challenge the traditional framing of different areas of Islamic Studies scholarship? When are these new approaches truly revolutionary, enabling innovative analysis; and when are they merely evolutionary, facilitating but not challenging the traditional methodologies?


  • Dr. Martina Rugiadi (Associate Curator, Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)
  • Sharon Tai (Deputy Editor, SHARIAsource at ILSP, Harvard)
  • Prof. Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano (History, University of Pennsylvania)


  • Dr. Jared McCormick (DGS Near Eastern Studies, NYU)

1:00-1:10 pm: Break for Dhuhr

1:10-2:00 pm: Lunch

2:00-3:30 pm: Muslim Identity and Islamic Studies

This panel engages with Muslim academics whose work bridges the gap between the academic study of Islam and Islamic scholarship in the modern world. Rather than conceiving of these two domains as discrete and separate, the panelists will discuss how their academic work is intimately related to their identity as Muslim scholars. The panel will center on the methodological concerns of the panelists and the way in which they leverage contemporary academic discourses—such as theology, feminism, theories of religion, and identity—to both further Islamic Studies scholarship and serve the larger Muslim community.


  • Prof. Sylvia Chan-Malik (American and Women and Gender Studies, Rutgers)
  • Prof. Martin Nguyen (Religious Studies, Fairfield University)
  • Prof. Zareena Grewal (American and Religious Studies, Yale University)


  • Prof. Ismail Alatas (Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, NYU)

3:30 pm: Closing Remarks


May 10, 2019
May 11, 2019
Event Categories:
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New York University
New York, NY