April 2010

Shahara bridge in northern Yemen

Poverty and famine are old comrades in much of the world. Add to this drastically declining water tables and economic stagnation and you have a sense of Yemen today. But a recent World Bank project makes a virtue out of the rocky road by literally providing jobs for skilled Yemeni stone cutters to build roads. Check out the video on the website by clicking here.

Female Islamic Leadership Research Network

Academics interested in any aspect of female religious authority or leadership in Islamic communities worldwide – historical or contemporary – should join this network. The goal of the list is to enable academics spread across a wide variety of disciplines to pass along relevant information and resources, and to discuss topics of interest.

This research network is an outgrowth of a conference held in October 2009 at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford on contemporary female Islamic authority, Women, Leadership and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority. The conference focused on the growing number of women active teaching, preaching, interpreting scriptures, or leading prayer in mosques or madrasas around the world.

The large response to the call for papers for this conference made it clear that academic interest in this topic is high and increasing, and also that academics working on this topic are divided by an unusually large number of disciplinary boundaries. A virtual network with a mailing list is an ideal way to connect scholars interested in this topic.

The network is open to scholars studying any aspects of female religious leadership in Islam, and therefore includes topics outside the conference’s purview, for instance, the reinterpretation of Islamic scriptures by women who are primarily active outside of mosques and madrasas. (more…)

Ambassador Torlot

Suicide bomber attacks UK ambassador’s convoy in Yemen

Hugh Macleod in Sana’a and Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian, April 26, 2010

The British ambassador to Yemen escaped assassination this morning when a suicide bomber attacked his security convoy as it drove through a crowded street near the embassy.

The ambassador, Tim Torlot, was unharmed, but one person – believed to be the bomber – was killed in the blast. Two local men and a woman were injured.

Torlot’s armoured car was passing through a poor neighbourhood in the eastern part of the capital, Sana’a, when the explosion occurred.

Witnesses described the suspected bomber as a young men dressed in a tracksuit and trainers who was waiting by the side of a busy road for the convoy to pass. (more…)

Professor Yosef Tobi of Haifa University will be presenting a talk entitled “The Legal Status of the Jews in Muslim Yemen, 897-1948” at Hofstra University on Tuesday, April 27 at 9:35 am in 201 Barnard Hall. This lecture is sponsored by the Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies Program and the program in Jewish Studies at Hofstra. Dr. Tobi is one of the leading experts on the history of Yemenite Jews and has written several important books on the topic, including The Jews of Yemen: Studies in their History and Culture (1999).

For a review of Dr. Tobi’s The Jews of Yemen, click here.

For an article by Dr. Tobi entitled “THE CONTRIBUTION OF YEMENITE

Every good capitalist knows about the Fortune 500, the annual ranking of the top grossing corporations in the United States. Now Muslims who read English have their own ranking of the top 500 most influential Muslims. The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding have jointly issued a new book, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin of Georgetown University. This is scheduled as the first in an annual series that will provide short biographies of prominent Muslims in a variety of fields. According to the editors, the aim is to “highlight people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim.” So who tops the list?

As fortune would have it, this effort should probably be dubbed the Baraka 500, but more for the politics of the sponsors than the demonstrated holiness of the individuals. Deciding who are the influential individuals that happen to be Muslim is no easy task, especially considering that most Muslims have not been consulted in the process. So before you read any further, jot down who you think are the top ten Muslims in the world. I suspect that you will not duplicate the “official” list provided by Esposito and Kalin for their Saudi and Jordanian sponsors. (more…)

Kimball Tobacco Company Factory (1846-1905) in Rochester, New York, published a series of “Dancing Girls of the World.” These appear to be from the late 1880s. Several of these purport to depict women dancing in the Middle East. But it seems the artist had never actually seen ladies of the exotic harem. Take a peek for yourself.


The blog Shadjar Al Noor has a lovely combination of photographs showing the similarities between the highlands of Yemen and of Peru. Check out the photographs here.

The Colloquium for Unpopular Culture and NYU’s Program for Asian/ Pacific/ American Studies present a new series: AUSCULTATIONS: sound, noise, (nervous heart)beats

FLAGG MILLER (University of California at Davis)

Cosponsored by NYU’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies

When: Monday 19 April 2010, 12:30pm
Where: Room 471, 20 Cooper Square (East 5th and Bowery)
Free and open to the public

The alleged fantasies of Islamic militants provide Western audiences with an ample repertoire not only for stereotyping Muslims but also for severing acts of terror from realms of human experience. With the aim of bringing Muslim militants’ narratives of violence back to the complexities of situated cultural interaction, Flagg Miller will investigate the ways in which militancy is conceptualized through audiocassette-mediated sound production. In the winter of 2002, over 1500 audiocassettes from Osama Bin Laden’s former compound in Qandahar, Afghanistan were acquired by Cable News Networks. Miller will focus on one cassette entitled “With the mujahidin” (ma` al-mujahidin) that features participants cooking breakfast in a makeshift Afghan Arab kitchen. (more…)

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