Indiana University Bloomington
Choose which site to search

Third Biennial Mapping the Landscapes of Islamic Studies at Indiana University Conference

The Third Biennial Mapping the Landscapes of Islamic Studies at Indiana University conference, which took place from October 31st to November 2nd 2014, featured an array of speakers from both IU and other universities. The talks focused on topics ranging from Arabic translations of Greek philosophical works to the economics of contemporary Islamic piety. Below are summaries of selected talks by CEUS professors and students.

In his talk, “Repetition and Difference in Nineteenth-Century Central Asia,” CEUS doctoral candidate Nick Walmsley investigated the regional tradition of poetic response as practiced by two Khoqandi poets. A compilation of poetry commissioned by ‘Umar Khan, an early 19th-century ruler of Khoqand, contained poetry written both by and in response to the Khan. These responses followed a formalized pattern, mimicking the meter, rhyme, and vocabulary of the original poem. Looking at a particular poem and its response, Walmsley showed the ways in which, despite its formal imitation, the latter poem provided an innovative and distinctive message.

Dr. Shahrani Mapping Conference, photo by Mohammad Syifa Amin Widigdo

Photo by Mohammad Syifa Amin Widigdo

In his talk, “Management of Islamic Sacred Texts as Public Trust (Commons): Possibilities and Predicaments,” Dr. Nazif Shahrani, Professor of Anthropology and CEUS, discussed a method of framing sacred texts as communal resources. Giving an overview of past methods of understanding religion and the meaning it imparts, Dr. Shahrani argued that religion can be viewed as a common pool resource. In order to avoid a tragedy of the commons situation Dr. Shahrani suggested using a method for communal self-regulation developed in the Bloomington Ostrom Workshops.

Dr. Paul Losenksy, a professor in the CEUS and Comparative Literature departments gave a talk entitled “Baroque Modern: Ṣā’eb and the Contemporary American Poetic Idiom” about the challenges of translating the poetry of renowned 17th century Persian poet Sa’eb Tabrizi into modern American English. Rather than attempting to capture the literal meaning of the poet’s choice of words, Dr. Losensky argued for the importance of finding and translating the cultural importance of the work within the context of its time and society. Dr. Losensky then discussed the poetic elements he chose to mirror and adapt in his own translation work.

Dr. Edward Lazzerini spoke about plans to use quantitative data in understanding the lives of Muslims in the Russian Empire in “Filling the Demographic Hole with Big Data: The Muslims in Russian Central Eurasia, 1829–1918.” After describing the administrative structures of the empire with regards to its Muslim subjects, gave an overview of known demographic data recorded in the registers of the mosques and mahalles of the empire. Dr. Lazzerini concluded with future plans for extracting and using data from other metrical books.

This event was sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center at Indiana University.