The 2021 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting is taking place on November 29 – December 5, 2021. A complete program listing all the various sessions can be found here, and registration details can be accessed here.
The Islamic Law Blog has curated below a list of panels relating to Islamic law and history as well as those featuring scholars, fellows, editors, and students who are or have been affiliated with the Program in Islamic Law at Harvard Law School, emphasized in bold.
- The panel entitled “[P6564] Imagining Alternative Commons from the Levant: Digital Archives, Images, Documents, Ecologies” (November 29, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) “will ask questions about how documentary visual media [can] … contribute to a shared political imagination.”
- The panel entitled “[P6413] Mapping the Literary Corpus: The Geography of Early Modern Persian Anthologies” (November 29, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will examine “three Persian anthologies which date from the mid-sixteenth century to the end of the seventeenth century.” Hajnalka Kovacs (Harvard University) will present a paper entitled “The Geography of Knowledge in Shīr Khān Lodī’s Mir’at al-khayāl.”
- The panel entitled “[P6470] New Directions in Islamic Intellectual History” (November 29, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will shed light on the “understanding of the roles of reason and revelation in Islamic intellectual history.” Omar Farahat (McGill University) will serve as discussant.
- The panel entitled “[P6623] New Perspectives in Medieval Islamic and Mamluk History” (November 29, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) includes presentations that range from dating Prophetic sayings about the textual history of the Qur’ān to an investigation of the Islamic ṭabaqāt genre.
- The panel entitled “[P6663] Pandemics and Covid-9: Surveillance, Governance, and Control” (November 29, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will investigate the various means and methods employed by Middle Eastern governments in response to the pandemic.
- The panel entitled “[R6412] Reading Practices and Contexts in the Early Ottoman Empire” (November 29, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) “brings together scholars who have worked on reading practices in the Ottoman Empire and studied sources that range from literary works, medical treaties, mystical texts, as well as grammars and literary commentaries, in order to discuss the varied forms that the transmission of knowledge took among the Ottomans.” The panel will be chaired by Cemal Kafadar (Harvard University).
- The panel entitled “[P6675] The Covid Society: How Pandemics Reconfigure Social Relations” (November 30, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will look at how polities have reshuffled the means by which they socialize, in the wake of the pandemic. One presentation will focus on how the obligation of Islamic charity, and specifically zakāt, has been reconfigured by the pandemic.
- The panel entitled “[P6516] Fraud in the Colonial Archive: Writing a Social History of the Modern Maghrib” (November 30, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will complicate and expose the problems associated with scholars’ reliance on French archives to document the history of colonial Maghrib. Myriam Amri (Harvard University) will present on “Fake Coins in the Archive: Counterfeit Money and Anxious Power in the Tunisian Protectorate.”
- The panel entitled “[P6614] Islamic Reform, Religious Reactions, and Political Trajectories, 19th-20th c.” (November 30, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will focus on past and present Islamic reform movements in Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.
- The panel entitled “[P6630] Cultivating Modern Egypt, 19th-20th c: Endowments, Education, and Governmentality” (November 30, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will discuss, among other things, the rise of Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments as a financial institution.
- The panel entitled “[P6606] Law and modernity: Codification, theory and constitutionalism” (November 30, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will discuss constitutional amendments, codifying law, and how religious courts exercise authority over matters pertaining to personal status law.
- The panel entitled “[P6535] Legal belonging and imperial jurisdiction in the Ottoman Maghrib (18th-20th c.)” (November 30, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will focus on “the quickly evolving and highly contested history of categories of subjecthood as they were applied to -and claimed by- North Africans.”
- The panel entitled “[P6430] Race and Its Legacies in Arabic Literary Heritage and Production” (November 30, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) “explores the development of discourse on race in the Arabic literary heritage and cultural production in materials ranging from pre-Islam through the present day.”
- The panel entitled “[P6349] Race in the Medieval Middle East” (November 30, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) “will focus on racially connoted processes of othering as they manifest in medieval Arabic textual and visual sources.”
- The panel entitled ” [P6645] The Politics of Urban Space” (November 30, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will feature papers discussing the evolution of public space in a number of countries, including Turkey and Egypt. The panel will be chaired by Nada Moumtaz (University of Toronto).
- The panel entitled “[P6515] Manuscript Cultures in the Islamic World” (December 1, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will “explore the potential of Arabic manuscripts as sources for telling the social and intellectual history of various communities in the Islamic world.” The session will be chaired by Ahmed El Shamsy (The University of Chicago).
- The panel entitled “[P6619] New Perspectives on Early Modern Ottoman History” (December 1, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will host a range of presentations, including one on justice at the Ottoman Imperial Council.
- The panel entitled “[P6521] Shia Ulama Between State Power and Sufism: Safavid to Modern Theories of Legitimacy” (December 1, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will try to answer the following questions: “How did Shia scholars conceptualize the relationship between religion and state? How did Sufis, understand their place with regards to the leaders of the time? How did the Shahs of Iran, who claimed Shia Islam as a basis for their reign, justify their monarchies? How do contemporary Shia authorities conceptualize the Islamic Republic and the guardianship of the jurist doctrine?”
- The panel entitled “[P6406] The Late Antique in Early Islam: Pre-Islamic Heritage in Early Islamic Politics, Poetics, and Science” (December 1, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will “showcase the instances of continuity and change between late antiquity and early Islam in the contexts of tribal relations, politics, poetry, and even science.”
- The panel entitled “[R6393] “The Old Women of Nishapur:” a Roundtable on Gender and Knowledge in Islam” (December 1, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) “will discuss the different forms of religiosity and understanding that the texts assign to the old women, the bodily and intellectual capacities they attribute or deny them, the evolving use of gendered tropes, the historical context in which the texts were written and their current reverberations, establishing resonances and frictions between eleventh century Nishapur and twenty first century Montreal.” Rula Jurdi Abisaab (McGill University) will present a paper.
- The panel entitled “[P6601] Qurʾan and law: gender, sexuality and hermeneutical authority” (December 2, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will discuss questions involving (in)fertility and gender in the Qur’ān, a discussion of questions that are thought to “animate” sharī’a, and Ismailī interpretations.
- The panel entitled “[P6501] Communal Boundaries and Networks of Learning and Communication in the Pre-Modern Maghrib” (December 2, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will discuss “the nature of inter-religious and inter-regime relations at different historical junctures, and in different social and political contexts, to shine a light on the nature of relations often seen as precluded or overdetermined by religious ideology[,]” as well as focusing on “the networks of learning and communication.”
- The panel entitled “[P6340] Beyond Boundaries: The Convergence of Adab and Other Medieval Islamicate Genres” (December 2, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will explore how “Arabic and Persian works of adab literature—belles-lettres, morality tales, poetic collections—clarify and illuminate other genres of medieval writing, from jurisprudence to city histories to cosmological texts, and even to material culture[.]”
- The panel entitled “[P6581] Tafsir Studies Today” (December 2, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will focus on the “lack a historical narrative of the field,” and will try to take stock of recent developments that have taken place in the field, especially in the past thirty years.
- The panel entitled “[P6624] Law, Translation, and Material Culture in Medieval and Early Modern Islamic History” (December 2, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will feature a presentation by Omar Farahat (McGill University) entitled ““No One Can Specialize the General”: Norm, Text, and the Jurist’s Role in Islamic Legal Theory.”
- The panel entitled “[P6510] Notions of the archive in the medieval Middle East” (December 2, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) “brings together scholars to examine notions of the archive that emerged among the subjects and communities we study,” including a presentation by Marina Rustow (Princeton University) on “Holes and Markings: Physical Traces of Archiving Practices in Fatimid Documents.”
- The panel entitled “[P6297] Rasulid Tribal Law, Sufism, Ottoman-era Yemenite Jews and Geography of the Tihāma: Studies in the History of Yemen” (December 2, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) provides “a panorama extending from the Mahdid era of Zabīd, the 13th-15th century Rasulid realm, the role of Sufism over the years and Yemenite Jews in the late Ottoman era.”
- The panel entitled “[P6615] Slaves, Captives, and Historical Narratives: Recuperation and Revision” (December 2, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will focus on narratives of enslaved persons in Ottoman Turkey, Egypt, Tunis, and Arak.
- The panel entitled “[P6291] The Past, Present, and Future of Ottoman Turkish Language Pedagogy” (December 2, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will investigate, among other things, “a variety of digital humanities projects, online dictionaries, and language-learning websites” used for Ottoman Turkish language pedagogy purposes.
- The panel entitled “[P6465] New Approaches to Islamic Law across the Indian Ocean” (December 3, 2021 @ 11:30 am) “takes seriously the historical, sociological, and legal content of the fatwa requests and responses” from the Indian Ocean area. Mahmood Kooria (Leiden University) will present a paper entitled “Questions from the Ocean, Answers from the Mountain: Law, Love, and Lus.”
- The panel entitled “[P6634] Ottoman Statecraft between Reform and Reaction, 19th-20th c.” (December 3, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will trace the history of Ottoman state modernization, including through an investigation of the Tanzimat Edict, state investment in healthcare, and reforms in policing practices.
- The panel entitled “[P6586] State Religion Relations: Coercion, Accommodation, and Pluralism” (December 3, 2021 @ 11:30 am) will explore constitutionalization efforts in Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia as well as nationalization of Islamic institutions under the Sisi administration in Egypt, and also the notion of collective leadership in Qum, Iran.
- The panel entitled “[P6513] Crime in the Archives” (December 3, 2021 @ 2:00 pm), “[b]ringing together approaches rooted in critical carceral studies, environmental and social history, and literary analysis, […] not only represents the variety of ways in which crime can be read, but also its ubiquity—as a focus of states and stakeholders, as phenomenon and symbol, and as an object of individual and collective fear, curiosity, loathing, and desire. Crime permeates and produces archives of all kinds.”
- The panel entitled “[P6290] Culture of Disputation: Debating, Delineating, and Refuting Legal and Mystical Thought within fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Ottoman Lands and Beyond” (December 3, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) “aims to bring forth scholarly debates into the discussion of legal, philosophical and mystical thought within a particular focus on the Ottoman lands of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.”
- The panel entitled “[P6547] Muslim Scholars as Agents of Change in the 19th Century” (December 3, 2021 @ 2:00 pm), “[h]elping to move beyond overshadowing this important period with actors imposing external change, […] aims to highlight the ulema as an important source of productive internal change.” Samy Ayoub (University of Texas at Austin) will chair the panel.
- The panel entitled “[P6538] Postcolonial Critique and Its Limits: Religion, State, and Secularism Revisited” (December 3, 2021 @ 2:00 pm) will focus on “the status of Egypt within the British Empire, the place of religion in colonial and postcolonial law and policy, and how secularization and the doctrine of political secularism relate to modernization.” Mona Oraby (Amherst College) will present on “Sanhuri, Nasser, and the Administrative Order of the New Republic.” Mina Khalil (Harvard Law School) will present a paper entitled “The Birth of the Interrogation in Nineteenth-Century Egypt.”
- The annual meeting will conclude with “[S6705] Middle East Medievalists (MEM) Business Meeting” (December 5, 2021 @ 12:00 am).