I am Ilyse R. Morgenstein Fuerst and, yes, that whole bit after the R. is my surname. I’m an assistant professor of religion and the current director of Middle East studies at the University of Vermont. I’m also the co-chair of the Study of Islam Unit at the American Academy of Religion, the editor of the Islam section for Religion Compass, and on various editorial and advisory boards for Islamic studies journals and projects. Generally speaking, my published work addresses South Asian Islam, theories and history of religion, and the racialization of Islam. My first book, Indian Muslim Minorities and the 1857 Rebellion, was published by I.B. Tauris in 2017. I’m working on other projects, mostly around boundaries of the study of Islam, memorialization of Islamic history in South Asia, and histories of Islamophobia and the racialization of Muslims.
I completed my Ph.D. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1995 and won a post-doc fellowship at the (then) newly-established department of Middle East Studies, Ben Gurion University of the Negev. In 1997 I joined the department as a faculty member. My fields of research and teaching include socio-legal history of the Ottoman Empire and the passage of the Ottoman legal system to the colonial era, with a special interest in the Ottoman Sharia court system and legal reforms during the long 19th century; social history of late and post-Ottoman Palestine; family history; microhistory; historiography; historical thinking. In my book, Family and Court: Legal Culture and Modernity in Late Ottoman Palestine (Syracuse University Press, 2006) I focus on the sharia courts of late-Ottoman Jaffa and Haifa. Employing a comparative socio-legal analysis of the records produced in the two courts, I discuss their legal culture. In the book, I offer observations on the impact of the growth and social transformation underwent by the port cities of Jaffa and Haifa on the socio-legal construction of the family. In my current research project I explore the Ottoman Family Code (1917). This important law is misrepresented in the historiography on both late and post-Ottoman Middle East. Another aspect of my research is the daily work of the Ottoman and post-Ottoman sharia courts in Palestine during the First World War and the early colonial period.
My doctoral dissertation deals with historiographical depictions of the encounter between Christianity and Islam in late medieval Portugal (late thirteenth-fifteenth centuries). Approaching medieval chronicles and genealogies as literary representations and active social practices, I examine how the portrayals of the war against Islam not only served for the political legitimization of royalty and aristocracy, but also provided them with a raison d’être, a social usefulness. I am particularly interested in how culture – in this case, historiography – can be used as an ideological tool to justify, reinforce, reproduce, or transform an existing social order.
Among the great diversity of source material and multiple historio- and biographical works covering the history of the early Qāsimī state , Yaḥyā b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim’s (d. after 1100/1687) Bahǧat al-zaman fī tārīḫ al-Yaman occupies a position of paramount importance. For the political, economic, social, cultural and intellectual history of Yemen in the five decades following the end of the first Ottoman occupation in 1046/1636, it amounts to an exceedingly rich mine of unique information. Even though it is referred to as ‘appendix’ (ḏayl) to the author’s overarching history of Yemen (Anbāʾ al-zaman fī tārīḫ al-Yaman) and its general introduction (al-ʿIbar fī aḫbār man maḍā wa-ghabar), it in many respects eclipses the Anbāʾ in importance, not least because it contains a substantial amount of data collected during the author’s lifetime from a wide range of sources and informants (travellers, tradesmen, students, men of learning, and commoners) from Yemen and all over the Islamic world. An equally amusing and intriguing section of Bahǧat al-zaman is the entry dedicated to ʿAbd al-Hādī al-Quwayʿī, a Ṣanʿāʾ based Šāfiʿī bibliophile. The article offers an annotated translation of passages extracted from that entry and are designed to prepare the ground for an in-depth study of K. al-Nibrās and a ramified network of related texts.
Nancy Um is professor of art history at Binghamton University. She received her MA and PhD in art history from UCLA. Her research explores the Islamic world from the perspective of the coast, with a focus on material, visual, and built culture on the Arabian Peninsula and around the rims of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Her first book The Merchant Houses of Mocha: Trade and Architecture in an Indian Ocean Port (University of Washington Press, 2009) relies upon a cross-section of visual, architectural, and textual sources to present the early modern coastal city of Mocha as a space that was nested within wider world networks, structured to communicate with far-flung ports and cities across a vast matrix of exchange. Her second book, Shipped but not Sold: Material Culture and the Social Order of Trade during Yemen’s Age of Coffee (University of Hawai’i Press, 2017), explores the material practices and informal social protocols that undergirded the overseas trade in 18th C Yemen. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, African Arts, Northeast African Studies, Journal of Early Modern History, Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture, Art History, and Getty Research Journal. She has received research fellowships from the Fulbright program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Getty Foundation, and the American Institute for Yemeni Studies.
My research focuses on the art and archaeology of ancient Iran, and on the regions of the Near East, Eastern Mediterranean, and Central Asia that interacted with Iran prior to the advent of Islam. I am especially interested in reconstructing the social, cultural, political and even economic environments in which objects were created. I am also interested in how our modern knowledge of the ancient world was created, since this affects how we interpret objects and the conclusions we draw about the people who made them. I have held fellowships at the Harvard Art Museums and the Getty Research Institute, and teaching positions at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Southern California. I am now the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Islamic world, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Islamic world, Middle Eastern history
Beverly Weber’s research and teaching interests include the intersections of race, gender, and migration in Germany and Europe; comparative studies of racialization; digital activism; contemporary visual cultures; contemporary German literature and culture; and Islam in Europe. Her interdisciplinary work is informed by transnational feminist cultural studies frameworks, with a current focus on theories of precarity and intimacy; and incorporates analysis of popular media, literature, and film. Her first book, Violence and Gender in the “New” Europe: Islam in German Culture, examines how current thinking about Islam and gender violence prohibits the intellectual inquiry necessary to act against a range of forms of violence. It then analyzes ways in which Muslim women participate in the public sphere by thematizing violence in literature, art, and popular media. Her current book project explores the entanglements of racialized histories and European discourses of rights in contemporary discussions of refugees in Germany. She is also working on another project with Maria Stehle examining representations of intimacy and Europeanness in contemporary film.
Jonathan D. Sarna is spending this year as a fellow of the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies. Ordinarily he serves as University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, where he chairs its Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He also is the past president of the Association for Jewish Studies and Chief Historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Author or editor of more than thirty books on American Jewish history and life, his American Judaism: A History won six awards including the 2004 “Everett Jewish Book of the Year Award” from the Jewish Book Council. Sarna is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Jewish Research. His most recent books are When General Grant Expelled the Jews and Lincoln & the Jews: A History (with Benjamin Shapell), which has just appeared in a Hebrew edition.