Fellowships and Grants

Iraqi students on road trip to Niagara Falls

[Editor’s Note: Below is information about an organization devoted to helping Iraqi students. Details are at http://iraqistudentproject.org/]

Iraq: A Cradle of Civilization in Ruins

Iraq’s people were among the first to learn irrigation, to invent the system of writing sounds that is key to our own alphabet, to create a legal system that is the foundation of modern law. During the early Islamic centuries Iraq was a center where ancient learning was translated and preserved, where poetry and music and medicine flourished. In modern times Iraqis have built a thriving system of higher education and have sent thousands of students to study all over the world, returning to teach and work in Iraq. Western institutions of higher learning benefit from the contributions to scholarship and human development that have taken place across the centuries in Iraq. (more…)

2008 DPDF Research Field:
Muslim Modernities

Research Directors: Charles Kurzman and Bruce B. Lawrence

Islamic fundamentalists and Western Orientalists often emphasize pre-modern resonances in contemporary Muslim communities. Over the past generation, by contrast, an interdisciplinary set of scholars has come to emphasize the ways in which Islamic historical heritages are extruded, redefined, or invented through modern processes. We label this emerging field “Muslim Modernities.”

The idea of modernity was invented in Western Europe to distinguish the region from the rest of the world, including Muslim societies. Scholars disagreed about what modernity consisted of — capitalism, division of labor, rationalization, reflexivity, etc. — but broadly agreed that these were characteristics of the West and not of other societies. Increasingly, however, the study of Muslim communities has contributed to a re-thinking of the West’s monopolistic claims to modernity. Instead of measuring modernization as the adoption of Western institutions and norms, these studies have explored the development of alternative forms of modernity. These alternative forms are modern in three potentially distinct ways: their proponents claim that they are modern; they are recent, not found in “tradition,” though sometimes imposed retroactively on tradition; and they exhibit characteristics frequently associated with Western modernity, such as universalism, rationalization, and reflexivity. (more…)