Critical Muslim Studies (Part II)

This AAS Digital Dialogue is second in an ongoing series of discussions about topics in Critical Muslim Studies.

Friday, February 26, 2021

3:00pm Eastern Time

This is the second of several conversations on “Critical Muslim Studies” that center engaging with “Muslim” as an object and subject of knowledge in these times of increased ethno-nationalist populism, neo-colonial governmentality, and rising Islamophobia. Presenters will offer some takeaway points from their research to illuminate the dialogic, interconnected, and informed discourses and practices to understand the “Muslim” across regional, spatial, theoretical, and disciplinary boundaries. As a dialogue with active engagement with the virtual audience, by bringing in scholars whose work speaks through Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, and Arab American Studies, we can discuss a wider conceptualization of “Muslim” as embodiment, practice, critique, and transnationalism that can be important interventions in our academic associations. Panelists include Thomas Simsarian Dolan, Atiya Husain, Inaash Islam, and moderator Amira Jarmakani.

Session Speakers

Thomas Simsarian Dolan

Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies at George Washington University

Thomas Simsarian Dolan is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies at George Washington University, focusing on Middle Eastern diaspora and race. Recently selected as a Fulbright US Teaching Scholar and Calouste Gulbenkian Global Excellence Scholar, Thomas’ research has also been supported by the Institute for Middle East Studies, Dr. Philip M. Kayal Fund for Arab American Research, Bentley Historical Library Bordin-Gillette Fellowship, Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom and Armenian General Benevolent Union. He is an alumnus of Yale University, NYU, and the New School’s Institute for Critical Social Inquiry. Thomas has also served as a visiting researcher at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, and published in Mashriq & Mahjar, The Armenian Weekly, Huffington Post, Muftah, Arab America, and HowlRound, among others. 

 In Silencing the Past, Michel-Rolph Trouillot argues that silence is “an active and transitive process: one ‘silences’ a fact or an individual as a silencer silences a gun…Mentions and silences are thus active, dialectical counterparts of which history is the synthesis.” Thomas will examine how power has enacted and reproduced silences to articulate a normative “Middle Eastern,” “MENA,” “SWANA” or even “Muslim” subject, papering over a multiplicity of Muslim and West Asian identities and pasts.

Atiya Husain

Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Richmond

Atiya Husain is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Richmond. Her ethnographic research on race and Muslim communities in the US has explored how Muslims are positioned relative to the black-white racial binary, as well as how “Islamophobia” is invoked in ways that reproduce intra-Muslim racism and imperial articulations of antiracism. She is currently working on a book manuscript on the FBI most wanted program. The book explores the relationships between terrorism, race, religion, and Black radicalism from 1950 until today.

Inaash Islam

Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Virginia Tech.

Inaash Islam is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at Virginia Tech. She is interested in the implications of digitally mediated narratives of Muslim womanhood, race, religion, Islamophobia, and immigration in the lives of diasporic Muslim women. Her upcoming work contextualizes contemporary conversations around Muslimah social media influencers’ public acts of dejabing (i.e., taking off the hijab) within discourses of Islamophobia to offer insight into the kinds of racialized and gendered responsibilities that are imposed on Muslim women by Muslim Asian and Arab American communities in western spaces. She shows that Muslimah influencers navigate and negotiate with these expectations in various ways, but in doing so, run the risk of the double bind – that is, critiquing the desi and Arab Muslim community’s gendered surveillance at the cost of reinforcing Islamophobic and liberal western feminist narratives of Muslim misogyny and Muslimah oppression.

Amira Jarmakani

Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at San Diego State University

Amira Jarmakani, she/her/hers, is Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at San Diego State University. She is the author of An Imperialist Love Story: Desert Romances and the War on Terror (NYU press, 2015). She also authored Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S. (Palgrave Macmillan 2008), which won the National Women’s Studies Association Gloria E. Anzaldúa book prize. She is president of the Arab American Studies Association and a Series Advisor for the Critical Arab American Studies Series with Syracuse University Press.