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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 2020-2021 Programs

In the Fall of 2020, DISC began a series that engaged Duke alums who were active in Middle East, Islamic Studies, Gender Studies, and Muslim life during their time on campus.  We asked the invited speakers to talk to the personal, intellectual, academic, and spiritual trajectory through life, Duke, and graduate school.  Although virtual, we had a lively series of Alums who were willing to wrestle with what scholar activism is, who they are as scholars, and what they are currently working on.

In Spring of 2021, Duke Performances and the Duke Islamic Studies Center were awarded a second Doris Duke Foundation grant which seeks to harness the successful momentum of our “Building Bridges: Muslims in America” project to expand and deepen its reach—expanding to include spoken word poetry in addition to music and deepening with a specific focus on artists from the African diaspora. By featuring American Muslims of African descent, the project aims to bring much needed attention to issues of anti-black racism and anti-Muslim bias already salient in the work and lives of these artists themselves. In so doing, we strive to deeply engage in a process of reckoning, consciousness raising, and reconciliation through poetry and music, but also through a process of historical contextualization of this tradition.

DISC partnered with Kenan to sponsor 4 Graduate students 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” (2020-21). Students also brainstorm about possible applications of research to current affairs and review grant proposals, enhancing interdisciplinary professional development

DISC hosted “The Palgrave Handbook of Islam in Africa” Book Launch Conference in the Spring of 2021 which virtually gathered all of the authors, from all across the globe, together to share presentations on each chapter. The handbook generates new insights that enrich our understanding of the history of Islam in Africa and the diverse experiences and expressions of the faith on the continent. The chapters in the volume cover key themes that reflect the preoccupations and realities of many African Muslims. They provide readers access to a comprehensive treatment of the past and current traditions of Muslims in Africa, offering insights on different forms of Islamization that have taken place in several regions, local responses to Islamization, Islam in colonial and post-colonial Africa, and the varied forms of Jihād movements that have occurred on the continent. The handbook provides updated knowledge on various social, cultural, linguistic, political, artistic, educational, and intellectual aspects of the encounter between Islam and African societies reflected in the lived experiences of African Muslims and the corpus of African Islamic texts.

2020-2021 Notable Programs

Certificates & Degrees

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