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" with Dr. Khaled Beydoun, Wayne State University

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" with Dr. Zareena Grewal, Yale University

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" with Dr. Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, University of Vermont

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.

"Muslim Women: Unity and Diversity in a Global Tradition" with Dr. Kecia Ali, Boston University

Muslim Women: Unity and Diversity in a Global Tradition with Dr. Kecia Ali, by jem101@duke.edu

Though 'the Muslim Woman' has often been portrayed one-dimensionally, Muslim women and girls defy easy generalizations. Nearly one of every eight people on the planet is a Muslim woman or girl, and Islam is only one facet of their lives. Drawing from global examples, but emphasizing the United States, this talk explores how ideas about women are central to debates over Muslim identity and religious authority-and to outsiders' negative stereotypes about Islam.

Kecia Ali (Ph.D., Religion, Duke University) teaches a range of classes on Islam. Her research focuses on Islamic law; women and gender; ethics; and biography. Her books include Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur'an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence (2006, expanded ed. 2016), Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam (2010), Imam Shafi'i: Scholar and Saint (2011), and The Lives of Muhammad (2014), about modern Muslim and non-Muslim biographies of Islam's prophet. She co-edited the revised edition of A Guide for Women in Religion, which provides guidance for careers in religious studies and theology (2014). Her research also includes gender, ethics, and popular culture. Ali held research and teaching fellowships at Brandeis University and Harvard Divinity School before joining the BU faculty in 2006. She is active in the American Academy of Religion, where she served on the Board as Status Committee Director from 2016-2018. She served from 2014-2016 as President of the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics.

"Problems of Islamic Reform: Nigeria, Egypt and the United States" with Dr. Sarah Eltantawi, Fordham University

Sarah Eltantawi is Associate Professor of Modern Islam in the Department of Theology at Fordham University in New York. She is a specialist in contemporary Islam and Islamic law, with a focus in authoritarian and post-colonial contexts. Professor Eltantawi holds a PhD from Harvard University in the Study of Religion (Islamic studies), where she was the Jennifer W. Oppenheimer Fellow, an MA from Harvard University in International Studies (Middle East), and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley in Rhetoric and English literature. Professor Eltantawi's book Shari'ah on Trial: Northern Nigeria's Islamic Revolution (University of California Press, 2017) examines why Northern Nigerians took to the streets starting in 1999 to demand the re-impimentation of shari'ah law. Her book focuses on the career of the stoning punishment in Islam, centered on the famous case of Amina Lawal, who was sentenced to death by stoning at the turn of this century for committing adultery (and ultimately acquitted).

Professor Eltantawi is currently at work on two projects: one that examines the political theology of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and another, a book of essays that looks at several issues in Contemporary Islam, especially in the United States, most of which concentrate on problems attending the question of Islamic reform.

"From Miracles to Sorcery: Knowledge and Practice in the Work of the Kunta Scholars" with Dr. Ariela Marcus-Sells, Elon University

Dr. Ariela Marcus-Sells is an Assistant Professor and Distinguished Emerging Scholar in the Department of Religious Studies at Elon University. She received a PhD in Religious Studies/Islamic Studies from Stanford University in 2015. Her research focuses on Sufi intellectual history, the history of Muslim societies in West Africa, and the relationship between the categories of Religion, Magic, and Science. Her current book project, Sorcery or Science: Contesting Knowledge and Practice in West African Sufi Texts examines the role of the sciences of the unseen (ʿulūm al-ghayb) in Arabic manuscript texts produced by Saharan Sufi scholars writing at the turn of the nineteenth century. Her research has been generously supported by fellowships from the Institute of International Education, the Melon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities and has been published in The Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Multidisciplinary Studies, History of Religions, and Oxford Bibliographies in Islamic Studies.

"The Graveyard of Empires? A Comparative View of the Soviet and American Wars in Afghanistan" with Dr. Jeff Jones, UNC Greensboro

Dr. Jeff Jones completed his Ph.D. in 2000 at UNC-Chapel Hill and is currently an Associate Professor of Russian-Soviet and contemporary world history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His first book is entitled Everyday Life and the 'Reconstruction' of Soviet Russia During and After the Great Patriotic War, 1943-1948, and he is currently completing a book entitled Smoke, Mirrors and Memories: A Cultural History of the Soviet-Afghan War, 1979-1989, forthcoming in 2021.

"A Recipe for Daphne" book talk with Nektaria Anastasiadou

Nektaria Anastasiadou’s debut novel, A Recipe for Daphne, was published by Hoopoe, the fiction imprint of the American University in Cairo Press, in February 2021. Nektaria is the 2019 winner of the Zografeios Agon, a prestigious Greek literary award founded in nineteenth-century Constantinople. She is currently developing the winning short story into a novel written in the Istanbul Greek dialect. Nektaria speaks Greek, Turkish, English, French, Spanish, and Italian. She lives in Istanbul.