Edited and revised from a paper originally presented at the Perspectives in Islamic Studies conference, held at The Institute of Ismaili Studies in the summer of 1998, Dr Tazim R. Kassam examines the ways in which Islam is presented in Religious Studies curricula.
She questions the prevalent representations of religions as structural identities that can be easily categorised and essentialised, proposing a model such as Marshall Hodgson's The Venture of Islam to complement contemporary conversations in Religious Studies departments.
Tazim R Kassam obtained her PhD in the History of Religions at McGill University in Canada. Currently Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Syracuse University, her research and teaching interests include gender, ritual, devotional literature, syncretism and the cultural heritage of Muslims, particularly in South Asia.
In her book Songs of Wisdom and Circles of Dance (State University of New York, 1995), she explores the origins and creative synthesis of Hindu-Muslim ideas expressed in the song tradition of the Satpanth Ismaili Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent. She has twice co-chaired the Study of Islam section of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), served as President of the Rocky Mountain Great Plains Regional AAR Meeting, was a Lilly Teaching Scholar and is serving a second term on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.
Her awards include fellowships from The Institute of Ismaili Studies, the Social Science Research Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also pursues interests in Indian classical vocal music, computer technologies for teaching, and community service.