Featured Academic Talks and Conferences

Over the years, DISC has hosted extraordinary scholars, musicians, artists, academics, and community leaders at Duke.  We have gathered a sampling of these events for you to reflect on, learn from, and enjoy.

The Legacy of Malcolm X Conference


February 21, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century, Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. This conference brings together scholars from a variety of fields and is an invitation to connect our ideas, research projects, and activism across disciplinary divides. This conference is sponsored by Duke Islamic Studies Center. Cosponsors are Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Duke University), Department of Religious Studies (Duke University), African and African American Studies (Duke University), and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations (UNC-Chapel Hill). Co-organizers for the conference are Omid Safi (Duke), Juliane Hammer (UNC-CH), and Mark Anthony Neal (Duke).

Policing Muslim Identity During the Time of Trump - Khaled Beydoun

The Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, along with the Duke Islamic Studies Center, host its second event Oct. 11 as part of the “American Muslims, Civil and Human Rights” series, which examines the current human rights crisis for Muslims in the U.S. Khaled Beydoun, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, will present the talk, “Policing Muslim Identity During the Time of Trump” from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (101) in the West Duke Building on East Campus. Additional programming for the series will take place over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year.

Before Kaepernick: Dissent, Human Rights, and the Black Muslim Athlete - Zareena Grewal

The Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, along with the Duke Islamic Studies Center, will launch a yearlong series Sept. 28 examining the current human rights crisis for Muslims in the U.S. and abroad. The “American Muslims, Civil and Human Rights” series will host its first event with Zareena Grewal, associate professor of American studies and religious studies at Yale University. She will present the talk, “Before Kaepernick: Dissent, Human Rights, and the Black Muslim Athlete.” Zareena Grewal is a historical anthropologist and a documentary filmmaker whose research focuses on race, gender, religion, nationalism, and transnationalism across a wide spectrum of American Muslim communities. Her first book, Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority (NYU 2013), is an ethnography of transnational Muslim networks that link US mosques to Islamic movements in the post-colonial Middle East through debates about the reform of Islam. Her first film, By the Dawn’s Early Light: Chris Jackson’s Journey to Islam (Cinema Guild 2004), examines the racialization of Islam and the scrutiny of American Muslims’ patriotism long before September 11 2001. Her forthcoming book, titled “Is the Quran a Good Book?”, combines ethnographic and cultural studies analyses with historical research to trace the place of the Islamic scripture in the American imagination, particularly in relation to national debates about tolerance. She has received awards for her writing and research grants from the Fulbright, Wenner-Gren and Luce Foundations

Right to Representation: Consent, Distrust and Leadership in our Current Political Climate with Dr. Alaa Murabit

The Duke Islamic Studies Center, along with the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, will host its keynote event on March 1st, as part of the “American Muslims, Civil and Human Rights” series, which examines the current human rights crisis for Muslims in the U.S. Alaa Murabit is a medical doctor, one of 17 Global Sustainable Development Goal Advocates appointed by the UN Secretary General, and a UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment & Economic Growth. Her efficacy in security, health policy and sustainable development was most recently recognized by Forbes, Aspen Ideas and Bay Street Bull who named her a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30, Aspen Institute Spotlight Scholar, and Canada’s 30×30 respectively. Her leadership in global policy and in elevating the role of women, particularly young, minority women, on global platforms was recognized by Harvard Law who named her the youngest 2017 Woman Inspiring Change. Co-sponsors: Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies The International Human Rights Clinic at Duke Law School International Comparative Studies POLIS: The Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service Duke Global Health Institute.

After the Rebellion: Religion, Rebels and Jihad in South Asia - Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst

Religion, rebels, and jihad were redefined in the aftermath of the 1857 Rebellion in South Asia. What it meant to belong to a particular religion—specifically Islam—came to signify one’s political leanings. In turn, religious concepts with long, multifaceted histories—specifically jihad—came to be synonymous with a religion and its religious community. This talk addresses how the events of 1857-1858 minoritized and racialized Indian Muslims, with particular attention to the use of jihad as a rhetorical concept in the colonial period.

Professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst specializes in religions of South Asia. Her research deals with Islam in South Asia, historiography, and the development of theories of religion. Other areas of interest include how religion has been defined and relates to both nationalism and colonialism. She earned her B.A. in Religion from Colgate University in 2005, an M.T.S. at Harvard Divinity School in 2007, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Islamic Studies concentration in the department of Religious Studies in 2012.

Supported by a major grant from the Mellon Foundation, Humanities Futures explores possible trajectories of the humanities in the wake of interdisciplinary developments of recent decades, particularly the rapidly changing paradigms and practices in research, teaching, publishing, and public engagement today. Humanities Futures is comprised of the following program "tracks"—for more details on each, please visit the grant's central website humanitiesfutures.org.

DISC Muslim Lives Project featuring Oruç Güvenc

In October 2016, Dr. Oruç Güvenc came to Duke for a week long residency during which he visited both UNC and Duke classes, performed two concerts, gave numerous lectures and participated in an interview for our Muslim Lives project.  Dr. Güvenç is a Turkish Sufi musician, a clinical psychologist and music therapist, whose albums such as Ocean of Remembrance present a palette of musical textures through vocals, saz, ney, oud, and rebab, producing a hypnotic effect. 

A Conversation with Khizr Khan

Duke Islamic Studies Center and the Kenan Institute for Ethics welcomed Khizr and Ghazala Khan to give the James P. Gorter Annual Lecture in April 2017.

Khizr Khan, a Muslim American Gold Star father, entered the national spotlight when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Khan is a lawyer and holds degrees from Punjab University and Harvard Law School. His work deals with the fields of immigration and international business law and founded a pro bono project to provide legal services for the families of men and women serving in the military.

James P. Gorter Lectureship honors Jim’s contributions as founder and inaugural chair of the Duke Islamic Studies Center Advisory Board. He is a retired partner and member of the Management Committee of Goldman Sachs and is an alumnus of Princeton University and the London School of Economics where he was Woodrow Wilson fellow.  Jim and his wife, Audrey, have two children and a grandson who graduated from Duke.