IN SUMMARY :: SHARIAsource on Power and Participation in the Networked Public Sphere (At the 2016 Relaunch of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 4:30 PM


Yochai Benkler, Berkman Klein Co-Director and HLS Professor

Intisar Rabb, Director, SHARIAsource (a Berkman Klein project) and HLS Professor

Zeynep Tufekci, Berkman Klein Faculty Associate, Associate Professor at University of North Carolina, Contributing Opinion Writer at the New York Times

Jonathan Zittrain, Berkman Klein Faculty Chair and HLS Professor

Catherine Bracy, Berkman Klein Affiliate, Co-Founder and Managing Director of TechEquity Collaborative

[MODERATOR] John Palfrey, Berkman Klein Co-Director, Head of School at Phillips Academy


A stellar line-up of Berkman Klein directors, fellows, former fellows, and project directors formed a panel that discussed avenues for conversation and collaboration on cutting-edge scholarship and technology both within and outside of established distribution mechanisms. Professor Intisar Rabb spoke about her role in and the compelling reasons for forming SHARIAsource, which immediately garnered the support of the Berkman Klein Center. She pointed to the need for an academic and public understanding of what sharīʿa is and is not. With collaborations facilitated in part by the Berkman Klein colleagues, the project has taken up several questions that seek to make academic information on Islamic law accessible and useful to specialists and non-specialists alike: How can we collect sources on Islamic law and organize vast quantities of information in a way that provides a viable research tool on par with U.S. and other legal databases? How can we ensure that the diversity of Islamic law is maintained even as we seek to facilitate scholarly and public engagement about particular pressing problems of the day? How do we help inform academic, policy, and media conversations about Islamic law? Professor Rabb also discussed how a greater understanding of the context and nuance of Islamic law can impact the construction and implementation of law in a diverse number of societies. The event – organized by the Berkman Klein Center to celebrate its renaming with a gift from Michael Klein – attracted approximately 100 people in Wasserstein Hall, including Mr. Klein, and was followed by a reception and dinner at the Harvard Art Museums.