In recognition of the late Professor Mohammed Arkoun’s contribution to the the field of Islamic Studies and allied disciplines, the Institute of Ismaili Studies has established a new scholarship entitled “Mohammed Arkoun Doctoral Scholarship”.
Mohammed Arkoun (1928-2010), originally from Algeria, was for many years Professor of History of Islamic Thought at the Sorbonne University in Paris. He was an original voice in this field, developing a critical approach to the history of Islam as well as contemporary evaluations of the field in both theological and academic writings on the subject. In particular, he advocated joint use of historical research and concepts from modern linguistics and social sciences with the aim of creating a new discipline of an anthropological history of Islam. He saw this as a further means to a unified science of religion embracing at least all faiths of ‘Mediterranean’ origin as well as modern secular ideologies, which in his view deserved an equally critical examination.
These ideas were disseminated through his many writings, lectures and informal addresses and communication. Mohammed Arkoun was also a keen contributor to practical projects aiming at cultural and intellectual inquiry about the Muslim world. Pre-eminent among these was the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. He also taught at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, of which he was one of the Governors for many years, up to the time of his death.
The doctoral scholarship will be awarded once every four years for a four-year period to a graduate student pursuing research in the field of Islamic Studies, preferably in areas and on questions which are of importance to Professor Arkoun’s work. These include (but are not limited to):
- simultaneous attention to historical and modern issues in Islamic thought and society.
- harnessing the tools of the social sciences and humanities (notably, linguistics, sociology and anthropology) to the study of thought and culture in Muslim societies;
- consideration of theoretical frameworks for a critical understanding of religious thought and imaginaire in Muslims communities and other ‘Societies of the Book’.
The next scholarship will be awarded in 2022.