Wednesdays at the Center is a weekly series in which scholars, artists, journalists, and others speak informally about their work to an audience of students, faculty, staff, and community members. The series is organized, hosted, and archived by the John Hope Franklin Center. Collaborating partners provide support with lunch and guest services. All events in the series are free and open to the public.
Visualizing the Muslim Gandhi – Timothy Dobe
Timothy Dobe will present, compare and discuss several visual images of M.K. Gandhi, each of which embodies important dimensions of Islamic traditions. This presentation is sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center, the Duke India Initiative, and the Duke Islamic Studies Center.
Betraying the Spectacle: Black Muslim Women in the American South - Rashida James-Saadiya
Rashida James-Saadiya shares her narrative photographic work "Betraying the Spectacle" which highlights the intersections of blackness, spirituality and creative resistance in the lives of Black Muslim women living and working in the American South. Rashida James-Saadiya is a visual artist, writer, and cultural educator invested in transforming social perceptions through creative literature. This presentation is sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center, the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies.
Radical Love - Omid Safi
Dr. Omid Safi, Ph.D. gives a preview of his new book, "Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition"(Yale University Press, 2018). This presentation is sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center and the Duke Islamic Studies Center.
Sandow Birk: Highlights
Highlights from Sandow Birk's presentation at the John Hope Franklin Center's weekly Wednesdays at the Center series.
This presentation will outline Birk’s various projects throughout his lifetime. Birk began by taking classical paintings and reinventing them in the context of California surf culture. He then started portraying scenes from Los Angeles in the 1990's, again, modeled after classical paintings. Inspired by classical American landscape paintings, Birk spent the next few years painting all of the California state prisons. During the height of the Iraq War, Birk produced woodblock prints and paintings that depict scenes from the conflict. This led him to begin a project of hand-transcribing the entire Qur’an according to historic Islamic traditions and illuminating the text with relevant scenes from American life. Nine years in the making, the project was inspired by a decade of extended travel in Islamic regions of the world.
Los Angeles artist Sandow Birk is a well-travelled graduate of the Otis/Parson’s Art Institute. Frequently developed as expansive, multi-media projects, his works dealt with contemporary life in its entirety. With an emphasis on social issues, frequent themes of his past work include inner city violence, graffiti, political issues, travel, war, prisons, as well as surfing and skateboarding. Birk was the recipient of a 1995 NEA International Travel Grant to Mexico City to study mural painting, a 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 1997 Fulbright Fellowship to paint in Rio de Janeirio. In 1999, Birk was awarded a Getty Fellowship for painting and in 2001 he received a City of Los Angeles (COLA) Fellowship. In 2007, Birk was an artist in residence at the Smithsonian Institute and in 2009 he was in residence at the Cité Internatioale des Arts in Paris. Birk’s most recent project involves a consideration of the Qur’an as relevant to contemporary life in America. Birk is currently working on transcribing important documents, such as the U.S. Constitution and Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, as imaginary monuments.
Cyber Sufism - Rob Rozehnal
Highlights from Dr. Rob Rozehnal's presentation for the John Hope Franklin Center's weekly Wednesdays at the Center series. Within the hybrid, multicultural landscape of American religious life, Cyberspace offers tech-savvy Muslims an alternative platform for narratives and networking, piety and performance. Since the adoption of the printing press, Sufis have demonstrated a remarkable ability to adopt and adapt to emerging media technologies. Even so, the expanding use of the Internet by global Sufi communities remains largely unexplored by academic scholarship. What is ‘new’ about new media, and what is the future of digital religion? Drawing on new research, this talk spotlights key patterns, tropes and trajectories in Cyber Sufism by exploring how several contemporary American Sufi orders employ the Internet as a mediascape for the refashioning of authority, identity and ritual practice.
The Koran in English - Bruce Lawrence
Dr. Bruce Lawrence talks about the complexities of translating the Quran into English in this clip from his lecture, "The Koran in English: A Biography". This event is presented by the John Hope Franklin Center, the Duke University Middle East Studies Center, and the Duke Islamic Studies Center.
Dr. Oruç Güvenc plays therapeutic Sufi music
Dr. Oruc Guvenc performs traditional therapeutic Sufi music during his presentation at Duke's Wednesdays at the Center series. Dr. Guvenc presentation, "The sacred and the healing potential in Ancient Oriental Music & Movement Therapy" took place on Oct 5, 2016, and was supported by the Duke Islamic Studies Center.
Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream - Christopher Bail
Christopher A. Bail is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Duke University. By developing new methods for the analysis of large text-based datasets, Bail examines how political actors and non-profit organizations create cultural change. Bail will discuss the research and conclusions from his new book: “Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream” (Princeton University Press, 2015). Bail's presentation is sponsored by Duke University's John Hope Franklin Center and the Duke Islamic Studies Center.
Imperial Russia's Muslims with Professor Mustafa Tuna
Professor Mustafa Tuna outlines the Muslim populations in Russia today. Tuna is the Andrew W. Mellow Assistant Professor of Russian and Central Eurasian History and Culture at Duke University. This video clip was taken from Prof. Tuna's presentation, "Imperial Russia's Muslims" which was given on September 30, 2015 at the John Hope Franklin Center's Wednesdays at the Center Series.
Soft Force: Women in Egypt’s Islamic Awakening - Ellen McLarney
Ellen McLarney is Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. McLarney’s work focuses on Islamist movements, Islamic theological texts, gender in Islam, and North Africa. McLarney recently published Soft Force: Women in Egypt’s Islamic Awakening with Princeton University Press. This fall she’s teaching two courses— Andalusia: Muslim, Jewish, Christian Spain and Islamic Awakening: Revival and Reform.
Soft Force: Women in Egypt’s Islamic Awakening chronicles the exponential rise in writings on women and gender that accompanied—and catalyzed—the Islamic revival in Egypt in the decades leading up to the 2011 revolution. The book is about the soft revolution of Islamic popular culture, mass media, and public scholarship, a “passive revolution” criticizing military dictatorship in Egypt. Women’s Islamic cultural production, their lectures, pamphlets, theses, books, magazines, newspapers, television shows, films, and digital production, has been a critical instrument of this soft revolution. These revivalist writers describe themselves as waging jihad in the family, in the home, in childbearing and childrearing, in their selves and souls, in their bodies, and in the body politic. Reorienting Islamic politics in women’s spheres of influence, these writers put gender justice in the family on par with ritual worship in Islam, make this justice the heart and soul of Islamic law, and understand the family as a sacred domain for cultivating Islamic piety. Their jihad is performed within the “social units of the Islamic umma,” in Islamic organizations and groups, in communities, in the family, and in the home.
Kipervaser's guiding forces towards CAIRO IN ONE BREATH
Anna Kipervaser, filmmaker and Duke University 2015 MFA alumna, outlines the course her life took to inspire the creation of her film, CAIRO IN ONE BREATH. Kipervaser is a Ukrainian-born multimedia artist. Her work spans multiple disciplines including experimental and documentary moving image works in both 16mm film and HD video. In 2008, she founded On Look Films with Rodion Galperin as their first feature documentary film, CAIRO IN ONE BREATH, was taking form; CAIRO IN ONE BREATH premiered at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in April 2015.
Music and the Armenian Diaspora: Searching for Home in Exile - Sylvia A. Alajaji
Duke University Professor Omid Safi sits down with visiting Franklin & Marshall musicology expert Sylvia A. Alajaji to discuss her new book, "Music and the Armenian Diaspora: Searching for Home in Exile". Sylvia A. Alajaji is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Music Department at Franklin and Marshall College. Omid Safi is Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Director of the Duke University Islamic Studies Center. This video was produced by Julie Poucher Harbin of ISLAMiCommentary and Catherine Angst of the John Hope Franklin Center as part of the Field Reports series.
Islam & Freedom of Expression from Europe to the Middle East – Mustafa Akyol
Turkish journalist and author Mustafa Akyol writes regular opinion columns for Turkish publications like Harriet Daily News, and most recently, for the Middle East focused Al-Monitor.com. Akyol has published five books in Turkish, including "Rethinking the Kurdish Question" (2005). His latest book. "Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty" (2011 in English), offers an argument for Islamic liberalism. This book was praised by The Financial Times as "a forthright and elegant Muslim defense of freedom." Since fall 2013, Akyol has been a regular contributing opinion writer for the International New York Times. Akyol studies political science and history at Bogaziçi University, and teaches politics at Fatih University, both in Istanbul. Akyol is also a public speaker who has given numerous lectures and talks, including TED, where he spoke on "Faith vs. Tradition in Islam." He has been a commentator on public affairs programs including the BBC's Hardtack and CNN's Fareed Zakaria CPS.
An Anatomy of the Islamic Cyborg - Negar Mottahedeh
Negar Mottahedeh is an Associate Professor in Duke University's Program in Literature. On April 1, 2015, Professor Mottahedeh presented on the power of social media during the Iranian election crisis of 2009. Unaccustomed as we are still to our own cybernetic existence, we tend not to notice the full sensory reality of a given tweet. A tweet serves as our eyes and ears and is a connector of sorts. This talk will discuss how one tweet in the early days of the Iranian election crisis of 2009 circulated as a sonorous alarm clock encoded at once to wake up God and to call in Judgment day. Professor Mottahedeh's presentation was organized by Duke University Middle East Studies Center, Duke University Islamic Studies Center as part of the John Hope Franklin Center's Wednesdays at the Center Series.
Virtual Reality in the Arabic Classroom at Duke: Highlights
Highlights from a panel's conversation as part of the John Hope Franklin Center's weekly Wednesdays at the Center series.
This panel will describe what 360 video is and how it's recorded, including some of the cameras you can use to capture an immersive experience to share a vacation memory or a family event. You will also learn about a project funded by the Duke Digital Initiative (DDI) and executed with the support of AMES, CIT and OIT and Duke Engage in Lebanon and Jordan exploring the use of 360 video in teaching and learning Arabic at Duke. 360 video captures scenery and action from all sides and, in some cases, from above and below, too!
- Elizabeth A. (Libby) Evans manages the Duke Digital Initiative (DDI) at Duke University. The DDI is a collaboration between the central IT group and Duke's Learning Innovation. DDI is charged with exploring new and emerging technologies as they might be used in teaching and learning including drones, motion tracking,virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D video, 360 degree video, lightboards, and more.
- Chip Bobbert, Digital Media & Emerging Technologies Engineer, manages Duke’s two specialty labs—the Multimedia Project Studio and Innovation Studio—within the university's Software and Lab Services group.
- Leah Rothfeld is a senior from Florida majoring in International Comparatives Studies, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies on the Arabic language track and minoring in Economics.
- Thatcher Owen is a senior Mechanical Engineering and Arabic double major from Yorktown, Virginia. He studied ten semesters of Arabic at Duke University and with Boston University abroad in Rabat, Morocco.
- Maha Houssami is an Arabic language lecturer at the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies department since October 2011. Maha is also the Faculty Fellow for Duke Engage in Jordan and the faculty advisor of INJAZ, a student-run volunteer organization in which students meet weekly with local refugees from Arabic speaking countries for language and cultural exchange
Themes of Arabian Nights - Abdul Sattar Jawad
Professor Abdul Sattar Jawad present, "The Arabian Nights in America" during his Wednesdays at the Center lecture.
The Thousand and One Nights [alf Layla wa Layla] is the most popular world literature in the West. These Oriental Frame Tales captured the imagination of generations of Western readers and prominent writers in presenting fairy tales, romances, fables, legends, parables, anecdotes, erotica, debates, and exotic adventures. Ali Baba, Sindbad, and Aladdin and his Magic Lamp, hooked the attention of young and adults readers all over the world. The Nights, in their rich and exotic imagination, inspired poets, writers, and artists from medieval European Literature to Postmodernism. Professor Abdul Sattar Jawad will explore how the Arabian Nights inspired leading American writers like Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, and Melville as well as folklore artists. Professor Sattar Jawad's lecture is presented by the John Hope Franklin Center.
The Syrian Art World After 2011 - miriam cooke
Professor miriam cooke presents some of the artists working in Syria today. Professor cooke teaches in the Asian and Middler Eastern Studies department at Duke University and is the director of the Duke University Middle East Studies Center. This video clip is taken from the John Hope Franklin Wednesdays at the Center series lecture, "Syrian Culture after 2011" which was originally presented February 18, 2015. The talk was presented by the Duke University Middle East Studies Center and the Duke Islamic Studies Center.
The Intersection of Religion and Politics in Europe - Erhard Busek
Erhard Busek a former Vice Chancellor of Austria talks about the role religion and politics in Europe. This video clip is from a larger Wednesdays at the Center presentation entitled, "The Role of Religion in Politics in Europe and the Middle East". Presented by Duke Center for European Studies, Duke Islamic Studies Center, and the Sanford School of Public Policy.
Bruce Lawrence and Abdul Sattar Jawad discuss the term minority
Professors Bruce Lawrence and Sattar Jawad discuss the term minority in this clip from Professor Lawrence's public lecture, "Citizen Ahmed".
Challenging Authority in Cyberspace: the Case of Al-Jazeera Arabic Writers
Professor Mbaye Lo and Duke senior, Andi Frkovich, present research they have done on Al-Jazeera.