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The Constructive Muslim Thought and Engaged Scholarship Seminar is soliciting proposals for the 2020 AAR Annual Meeting that address the methodologies, parameters, and trajectories in contemporary efforts in producing constructive and engaged Muslim scholarship. The theme for the inaugural year of the seminar is to provide a critical assessment of current “state of field.” Proposed papers, then, ought to be framed accordingly around this theme. Papers examining critical forms of constructive Muslim thought and engage scholarship from the disciplinary perspectives of theology, ethics, philosophy, hermeneutics are welcome as are other approaches and areas of inquiry. In particular, we are interested in papers that:

-critically examine the history of constructive Muslim thought and engaged scholarship in the contemporary period, both within and outside the Euro-American Academy;
-survey and assess the systematic, structural, and institutional challenges facing constructive Muslim thought and engaged scholarship;
-engage, critique, and/or delineate the perceived boundaries and parameters of constructive Muslim thought and engaged scholarship as a discipline;
-propose, develop, and/or analyze new methodological approaches to constructive Muslim thought and engaged scholarship;

Given the format of the seminar, only individually submitted paper proposals are appropriate for consideration. Please do not submit pre-arranged panels.

If your proposal is accepted and you agree to be a part of the seminar, you are expected to attend and participate in the seminar at the Annual Meeting, barring unforeseeable exceptional circumstances. Upon acceptance, seminar participants will be placed in contact with one author to develop a public-facing bibliography of constructive Muslim thought and engaged scholarship (to be published online) that draws upon their individual areas of research. Moreover, participants are expected to complete and submit their papers at least two months in advance so that their papers can be pre-circulated among interested seminar attendees. Please note that papers will not be delivered at the seminar. Instead, seminar presenters and attendees will be assumed to have read the papers in advance and should arrive ready to discuss the substance of each paper and the thematic connections and tensions that emerge between them.

Mission Statement:

This seminar is aimed at exploring the developing academic discourse of constructive Muslim thought as a disciplinary field. Constructive Muslim thought is a broad and rich field of critical inquiry that involves both knowledge production and praxis. The constructive Muslim discourse is the cumulative result of the pioneering work of Muslim feminist scholars, postcolonial thinkers, decolonial thinkers, ethicists, scholars of Islam and critical race theory, among many others. Structural critique, ethical discernment, and community engagement are integral aspects of this broad body of scholarship. The organizers of this seminar argue that this expansive array of work can be construed as constituting an emergent new field within the academy, namely “constructive Muslim thought,” which runs parallels with, but is distinct from the study of Islam and Muslims.
The seminar is envisioned as a space for scholars of the study of Islam and Muslims and academic practitioners of engaged scholarship from out of the Islamic tradition (broadly conceived) to share and develop their research in conversation with one another. Specifically, over the course of five years, the seminar will critically examine two key topics at length: 1) the methodological directions and epistemological interventions that are emerging within the constructive Muslim discourse, and 2) the systemic and institutional challenges that the constructive Muslim discourse faces within academe broadly and between the disciplinary categories of theology and religious studies, more specifically. By providing a scholarly space to meet, the seminar aims to support the discourse conceptually and to grow the discipline structurally.

Method of Submission:




Martin Nguyen, alakhira@gmail.com

Najeeba Syeed-Miller, najeebasyeed@gmail.com


Steering Committee:

Khalil Andani, khalil_andani@mail.harvard.edu

Sam Houston, jsam.glass@gmail.com

Oludamini Ogunnaike, oludamini@gmail.com

Jerusha Rhodes, jrhodes@uts.columbia.edu 

Sarra Tlili, satlili@ufl.edu


Session Allotment: Two 90-minute sessions (may be back-to-back)

Expiration: December 31, 2025