“Muslim Pluralism: Historical and Contemporary Encounters with the Internal Others” is the title of the Institute’s 2002 Seminar Series, which will explore the diverse ways in which Muslims have addressed issues of authority, governance, knowledge, gender, material culture, social relations, space, language, ethics and the sacred. The series’ first seminar, “The Contemporary Challenge of Pluralism in the Management of Competing American Islamic Identities” was conducted by Professor Patrice Brodeur on March 5, 2002.
Professor Brodeur began by examining theories of pluralism arising from the Western European philosophical tradition, in order to situate contemporary American religious pluralism. He went on to present a case study of two recent surveys of Muslims in America and argued that American Muslims have had a long history of integration into the American society and that while pluralism has been a social model in the American context prior to the events of September 11, 2001, Muslim communities face an even greater challenge to re-present themselves as equal partners in the American socio-religious landscape following those events.
He concluded by suggesting that in order for the American society to move toward a greater understanding of its own religious pluralism, and for Muslims to appreciate issues to do with their own diversity and that of American society at large, efforts must be made to shift discussions about pluralism from circles of educated elites to the grassroots.
This Seminar Series will be held throughout 2002 and speakers in the series will include scholars from various disciplines, with expertise in Islam and Muslim society and culture. The next seminar on April 11, 2002 will be conducted by Professor John Bowen.
Proceedings from the Seminar Series will be published in the form of an edited volume of papers by the IIS in association with I. B. Tauris. The series is being co-ordinated by Zulfikar A Hirji, IIS Research Fellow and doctoral candidate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford (Wolfson College).