The Institute of Ismaili Studies participated in the 35th Annual Meeting of the Middle Eastern Studies Association of North America (MESA), a leading international academic organisation promoting research on the Middle East and the Muslim world. This year’s conference, held from November 17-20, 2001 in San Francisco, California, provided a forum for over 500 presentations and roundtables as well as 42 meetings of affiliated organisations and an avenue to showcase new films exploring the Middle East and Islam in all its varied dimensions.
This year marked the largest ever participation by The Institute of Ismaili Studies. As part of its activities, the Institute organised a panel on “Ismaili Literary History”, exploring the production, reception and manifestations of literature in its varying Ismaili contexts through the writings of the Ikhwan al-Safa’, the poetry of Nizari Quhistani and Nasir Khusraw, as well as the legacy of Rumi’s poetry in the oral literature and contemporary practice of the Ismaili community of Tajik Badakhshan. The Institute was also involved in three other panels: “Fatimid History”, “Medieval and Modern Islamic Law and Theology” and “Communities in Cyberspace”. In addition to the various academic papers presented at MESA, the IIS also presented its research and activities to the Middle East Studies academic community and announced the launch of its two newest publications: The Master and the Disciple, translated and edited by James W Morris and Al-Ghazali and the Ismailis by Farouk Mitha, both soon to be widely available.
MESA, established in 1966 with 50 founding members, today has a membership of more than 2,600. Its annual meetings attract scholars from a variety of disciplines and fields who are interested in the study of the Middle East, North Africa, and the larger Muslim world. In addition to its annual meetings, MESA also publishes the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, in association with Cambridge University Press, and the MESA Bulletin.