october newsletter

Islamic Law + History + Data Science @ MESA 2020 The Middle East Studies Association’s (MESA) Annual Meeting is currently underway from October 5 through October 17, 2020 and now completely virtual! The Program in Islamic Law (PIL) has curated a roundup list of panels related to Islamic law/Islamic history and data science/digital humanities. Upcoming presenters include PIL editors and partners in data science projects with two main sessions that showcase developments in the field: Maxim Romanov (University of Vienna) on Big Data and Mega Corpora in Middle East Studies (10.08.20 at 1.30p) as a part of panel highlighting digital corpora and emerging software tools that facilitate historical analysis; and Maxim Romanov together with Sarah Bowen Savant (Aga Khan University-ISMC) showcasing the power of digital humanities to transform our understanding of the social and cultural history of the Middle East (10.15.20 at 11a), including a close look at training data sets marking chains of transmission (isnads) and a new approach to master chronicling Islamic history. Other presenters have included PIL editors Mairaj Syed (University of California, Davis) on Cities of Hadith: A Big-Data Approach applying computational and statistical methods of analysis on the data found in the Gawami al-Kalim hadith software to quantify and locate in space and time hadith transmission in early Islamic history; Najam Haider (Barnard College / Columbia University) on a panel Promoting Public Scholarship in Middle East History. For a full roundup of Islam & Data Science, Middle East Medievalists, and Harvard faculty and affiliates at MESA, see the full roundups here.


CONTENT: Kariye Museum Conversion Alongside the now infamous decision to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Turkish President Recep Erdogan issued Presidential Decision Number 2840 to transfer the management of a second site, the Kariye Museum, the Ministry of Religious Affairs to similarly restore it as a mosque. His executive decision followed on a November 2019 Turkish Council of State Court Decision Annulling a Cabinet Decision of 1945 Converting the Kariye Mosque into a museum; that decision held that there had been a contravention of the waqf (trust) deed that had dedicated the building as a mosque. Read more on the Islamic Law Blog case roundup on the Turkish Decision on the Kariye Mosque.


CONTEXT: PIL Book Talk Webinar In the first of our book talk speakers series, Prof. Nurfadzilah Yahaya of the National University of Singapore discussed her new book’s concepts of “Fluid Jurisdictions” of Islamic law as applied to varied ethnic and racial populations under colonial rule  in Southeast Asia at a time of transition between Islamic, Dutch, and British rule. Key questions concerned the legal authority and regimes over Arab immigrants and indigenous Muslim populations. Dr. Iza Hussin served as a discussant, and examined the seeming paradox of fluidity and jurisdiction in the feedback loops between legal institutions, texts, and other actors. The full webinar is available on the PIL website and Vimeo


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