Duke's global centers & initiatives

Duke Islamic Studies Center

Mission Statement

The Duke Islamic Studies Center is a vibrant, diverse community of scholars and students engaged in interdisciplinary teaching, interactive learning, and cutting-edge research about Islam and Muslims. We are educating today’s students to become tomorrow’s leaders by equipping them with knowledge about the breadth and diversity of Islamic cultures, cross-cultural experiences, and language skills. DISC is one of the leading institutions in North America for the study of Islam and Muslims. Its comparative, cross-cultural approach to Islamic studies will foster fresh interpretations of Islam and encourage creative solutions to the economic, political and social challenges involving Muslims. We are committed to working with partners at home and abroad to provide undergraduate and graduate students, professionals and policy makers with the knowledge about Muslims and Islamic cultures, beliefs and practices that will enable them to operate effectively in a multicultural world.

Summary of 2021-2022 Programs

In the Fall of 2021, DISC hosted the Convivencia Lectures Series in partnership with Jewish Studies and the Focus Program. This series brought scholars together to discuss Andalusia and it’srelationship to architecture, language, archives, diaspora, and xenophobia. The lectures were held both via zoom and in person and allowed the audience and students gathered to engage with the scholarship presented. The Building Bridges: Black Muslims in America series continued in Fall of 2021 with two impressive young talents. DISC and Duke Performances hosted Dua Saleh, a Sudanese born Minneapolis-based vocalist, spoken-word poet, and actor to campus to be in conversation with students and perform their music to the broader Durham audience. We also welcomed Sasa Aakil, multimedia artist, writer, and the 2021 Montgomery County Youth Poet Laureate to campus to share a poetry writing session and perform her poetry in the Ruby Lounge.

In the Spring of 2022, DISC sponsored the Islam, Slavery, and the American South Conference which brought scholars, students, and community leaders together to highlight the intersection between Islam, slavery, and the American South. This conference brought scholars and journalists to campus to discuss the biographies and experiences enslaved peoples had. There were discussions on the local Durham community as well as an update on the Omar ibn Said manuscript project that brings bothDuke and UNC faculty together.

In late spring, DISC hosted “Art and the Black Muslim Image” which was a zoom discussion on the essays from “Black Muslim Portraiture in the Modern Atlantic”, The Muslim World Journal -Special Issue. This daylong event brought academics, art historians, and independent scholars together to discuss their articles in the special issue and how we, in the current day, can analyze portraiture to make the images come alive and share the stories that the images reveal.

DISC was also fortunate to once again partner with Kenan and sponsor a Graduate student in Kenan’s Religions and Public Life Graduate Student Working group. This student-led interdisciplinary seminar brings together graduate and professional students and postdocs to discuss their works-in-progress on selected themes such as “Minorities and Diasporas” (2017-18) and “Pain and Joy: Polemics and Praise in Religious Communities” (2018-19), “Church and State” (2019-20), and “Immigration and Religion” (2021-22). Students also brainstorm about possible applications of research to current affairs and review grant proposals, enhancing interdisciplinary professional development.

2021-2022 Notable Programs

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