Friday 19 November 2010


On 16 November 2010, four US-based scholars launched the Society of Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World (SCTIW). Alina Gharabegian, Seema Golestaneh, Jason Mohaghegh, and Lucian Stone want to 'promote new directions in scholarship and creative activities related to the interface of Eastern and Western movements' by establishing a multi-disciplinary network of 'professional academics representing a diverse array of fields'. This diversity is already reflected by the backgrounds of the initiators, New Jersey City University Assistant-Professors Gharabegian and Mohaghegh work in the fields of English literature and World literature respectively, but their interests also include contemporary Armenian literature, 'Middle Eastern interpretations of the elegy', and contemporary avant-garde circles in the Middle East. Seema Golestaneh is a PhD candidate in social anthropology at Columbia University working on contemporary Sufism in Iran (see also the post of  27 August on this blog). Stone, now an Assistant-Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Dakota is not only a specialist on the philosopher Simone Weil, but was also involved in the Library of Living Philosophers project, contributing to the volume on the Iranian-born thinker Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

Although its geographical remit indicates that the society wishes to showcase developments in the Islamicate world, the Society regards it as 'a kind of limitless zero-world, a vast territory of thought, experience, and imagination'. This open interpretation combined with the involvement of scholars not confined by the philological-historical inclinations which for so long determined the way Islam and the Muslim world was studied holds great potential of innovative and original ways of engaging with the pluralist civilizational heritage of the Muslim world.

At present membership is free, to register click here.

For a flavour of what might be in store for the future, here are some of the publications by members of the steering committee:

:New Literature and Philosophy of the Middle East: The Chaotic Imagination (Literatures and Cultures of the Islamic World)Relevance of the Radical: Simone Weil 100 Years LaterPhilosophy of Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Library of Living Philosophers Series)

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