annual report 2011-12
about the center for the study of religion and conflict
Religion wields extraordinary influence in public affairs. Although a rich reservoir of values, principles, and ideals, it is also a powerful source of conflict and violence as diverse traditions—religious and secular—collide. Globalizing trends that are making the world smaller are also unleashing dynamics that are creating some of the most complex and challenging problems of our age. The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University promotes interdisciplinary research and education on the dynamics of religion and conflict with the aim of advancing knowledge, seeking solutions and informing policy. By serving as a research hub that fosters exchange and collaboration across the university as well as with its broader publics—local, national, and global—the Center fosters innovative and engaged thinking on matters of enormous importance to us all. Committed to a model of scholarship that is transdisciplinary, collaborative and problem-focused, the Center stimulates new research by bringing together faculty and students from across the disciplines, creating links between the academic world and that of professionals, policymakers, practitioners and religious leaders, and fostering cross-cultural exchange through partnerships and collaborations with international scholars, students and institutions.
Table of Contents From the Director
Year in Review 2011–12
Research 4 Programs 14 Education 16 Friends of the Center
Linell Cady Director Faculty Advisory Committee John Carlson (Associate Director, CSRC), Religious Studies Terence Ball Political Science Abdullahi Gallab African & African American Studies Joel Gereboff Religious Studies Moses Moore Religious Studies Steven Neuberg Psychology Yasmin Saikia Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies Sheldon Simon International Relations and Security Studies George Thomas Global Studies Hava Tirosh-Samuelson Jewish Studies (Director) Carolyn Warner Political Science (Head) Mark Woodward Religious Studies Staff Carolyn Forbes Assistant Director Laurie Perko Administrative Coordinator Student Interns and Graduate Assistants, 2011-12 Diana Coleman Matt Correa Nesima Aberra Alli Coritz Christopher Palfi Richard Ricketts Research Support, 2011-12 Chad Haines Assistant Research Professor Maureen Olmsted Project Coordinator
message from the director
The daily news highlights a seemingly endless parade of conflicts at the border of religion and politicsâ€”from shootings at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin to a murderous attack on the American consulate in Benghazi to arguments over reproductive rights and religious freedom in the US. Where does politics end and religion begin? How do we sort out the multiple causes of religiously inflected conflicts, and what can we do to address them? The questions are many, the challenges urgent. The Center for the Study of Religion was created almost a decade ago to tackle them. With considerable support from federal agencies and private foundations, the Center has developed a remarkable track record of research, publications, and educational programs. Working with faculty from across the university, the Center is advancing knowledge of the dynamics of religion, politics and conflict on the ground. And with philanthropic supporters, we have created a range of programs that engage students and the community in cultivating the cross-cultural understanding needed for a sustainable peace. Please take a minute to browse through our report and get acquainted with the many faculty, students, projects, and programs associated with the Center. I invite you to explore our website, join us on Facebook, attend our programs, and become part of a community that connects us here at ASU to conversations that are creating solutions around the globe.
CSRC year in review
highlights from the 2011-12 academic year 08/11
Release of HardtNickachos Chair Yasmin Saikia’s Women, War and the Making of Bangladesh (Duke University Press)
Panel Discussion on “The Difference a Decade Makes: Religion, Politics and Public Life: Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11”
RELIGION AND CONFLICT: ALTERNATIVE VISIONS LECTURE SERIES
Release of CSRC associate director John Carlson’s “How Shall We Study Religion and Conflict” in Religion and Foreign Affairs: Essential Readings (with Matt Correa)
eza Aslan: “Beyond R Fundamentalism”
CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER
Announcement of 2011-12 Undergraduate Research Fellows
ennis Dalton: D “Nonviolent Change and Reform Today: Lessons from Gandhi” (at the ASU Downtown Campus) n A Conversation with Shahla Talebi, author of Ghosts of Revolution: Rekindled Memories of Prison in Iran n
Hardt-Nickachos Chair Yasmin Saikia book launch tour and media campaign— India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, U.S., and U.K.
J ualynne Dodson: “Hope and Change: African Religion in the Diaspora” n Martin Matustik: “Un/Forgiving Memory & Counter/Redemptive Hope: Film Screening and Discussion” n
CSRC Minerva Research Briefing in Washington, D.C. CSRC Luce Seminar on Religion, Rights and Gender continues
2011 CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER n
J ohn O’Laughlin: “Religion and Ethnic Conflict: Observations from the Shatter Zones of Southeastern Europe and the Caucasus”
United Nations Senior Advisor Azza Karam visits CSRC
CSRC Minerva AllHands Meeting
Luce International Fellow, Zilka Spahi´cŠiljak, begins residency at CSRC
Research Symposium: The Transhumanist Imagination: Innovation, Secularization and Eschatology
International Conference in Islamabad, Pakistan: “Being Muslim in the World” (with International Islamic University and American Institute of Pakistan Studies)
RELIGION AND CONFLICT: ALTERNATIVE VISIONS n
laine Pagels: E “Beyond Belief”
Friends of the Center Student Research Awards announced International Symposium in Lahore, Pakistan: “Global Dialogues” (with Lahore University of Management Studies) MAXINE AND JONATHAN MARSHALL SPEAKER ON RELIGION AND CONFLICT n
atherine Marshall: K “Taking Women and Religion Seriously: Intersecting Paths”
CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER n
esley Wildman: W “New Approaches to the Study of Religion and Science”
Luce Conference on “Religion and International Affairs: Through the Prism of Rights and Gender”
2011-12 Certificates in Religion and Conflict awarded HARDT-NICKACHOS LECTURES IN PEACE STUDIES
ia Sardar: “Peace in Z Postnormal Times” n Sari Nusseibeh: “Religion, Values and the Search for Peace” n
Public Lecture by Martha Nussbaum: “Human Rights and Women”
Release of CSRC project director Hava TiroshSamuelson’s Building Better Humans? (Peter Lang, with Kenneth Mossman)
CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER n
sef Bayat:“Beyond A the Arab Spring: Back to Islamism?”
CSRC project director Steve Neuberg speaks in Science magazine forum, “Why Do We Fight?”
2012 CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER n
eth Simmons: B “The Global Diffusion of Law: Gender, Transnational Crime and the Case of Human Trafficking”
ichael McCullough: M Waiting, Tolerating, and Cooperating: Modern Religious Belief as a Restraint Device
CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER n
J ames R. Lewis: Violence and New Religious Movements
generates intellectual fusion through crossdisciplinary fosters new conversations, joh the nt role em of r elig ple iou ton sb elie fs a un found nd ive inst rsit ation itut ion y / s in gen of n o ero sity tre d a henry religion luce fo and inte rnationa undati l affairs: on through the pris m of
rights a nd gend er
dation n u o f d r fo , gender
n, politics io g li e r : s ism e secular iv t a r a p m co
engagement collaborations and policy insights n io s t as a m d n or f u ss fo ne
s ic tie o atr
ive ce g r n o ie nf c o l s flict ces a n n n it o nd co influe na ion a ious
n/ o i t y nda ig elig u olog l n o h e f r c r on t ce, te of and n e l e i c s mp ic nic ion, s e t g i l m e n r h na et joh titute manism: dy s n shu i n a r s t exu lenges of n a t me g the chal facin
dod m inerva resea in the w rch in ar of w itiativ ords: m e apping
counte r-radic al Mus lims
The Luce Project on Religion and Is secularism the only way for women to achieve equality? Is religion inherently antithetical to women’s advancement? Is the concept of human rights so associated with “the West” that it can never be a viable means for achieving women’s rights in non-Western countries? Do certain rights, principles, policies, presumptions, and institutions come at the expense of women? Are there other religious and ethical traditions—about justice, human dignity, or good governance—that women and men draw upon to support women’s concerns?
“One of the most important issues has to do with getting beyond the oppositional model…as if religion and the secular were standing somehow in competition with each other in a zero sum game.” —Linell Cady, ASU Center for the Study of Religion
hese questions are at the heart of “Religion and International Affairs: Through the Prism of Rights and Gender,” an initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Anchored by the Luce Seminar—a group of 15 faculty members that has been meeting regularly at the Center for the past two years—the project has brought together scholars, students, activists and policy experts from ASU and abroad for crossdisciplinary conversations and public engagement, including a major international conference in March 2012, that are transforming understandings of the interaction of religion and gender in global conflict.
“Family law in the Middle East is a modern invention that did not exist as an independent juridical domain in the pre modern period…[yet] it is often represented as the essence of the religious tradition.” —Saba Mahmood, University of California, Berkeley “When contemplating modernity, hijab is the most controversial symbol of religion in public, provoking reactions both by opponents and proponents.”
—Zilka Spahić Šiljak, Luce International Fellow
“Huquq al insan is an Islamic concept of rights endowed to humans by virtue of their existence. Every human person has that right—men and women, rich and poor, old and young.” —Yasmin Saikia, ASU Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies
d International Affairs
through the prism of rights and gender
“We began…using human rights discourse in the United States…because we saw that international activists…were using the human rights framework much more effectively than the limited constitutional framework that we were using within the United States.”
“Today, there is no self-respecting development organization that doesn’t have a gender strategy or focus on how important women are…but the way in which gender and religion interact is fraught, complicated and important.” —Katherine Marshall, World Faiths Development
—Loretta Ross, National Center for Human Rights Education and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective
“At the community level, it has been an absolute farce to proceed as if religion had nothing to do with how people behaved and what they believed and their attitudes.” —Azza Karam, United Nations Population Fund
“I’ve learned in my practice that it isn’t about me. It’s about the bigger things, generations yet unborn, freedom, human dignity, the worth of a person. As we do one case, one time, one person at a time, we’ll get there.” —H auwa Ibrahim, Nigerian human rights lawyer
“It is important to move beyond this notion that international human rights architectures…are still the product of Western Christian and Northern European views about rights…we’ve seen an incredible globalization of the discourse of human rights in terms of those who actually participate… and in the legal structures.” —Elizabeth Prodromou, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
“We’re saying that we need multiple normative frameworks from which we can engage with, so that in cases where the Sharia advances women’s rights, let us use the Sharia. In cases where it’s the international human rights convention, then let us use the international human rights convention. In cases where it is the national constitution, let us use the national constitution.”
Martha Nussbaum, philosopher, public intellectual and the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, delivered a public lecture on “Human Rights and Women” on March 15, 2012. Nussbaum is one of the chief architects of the Capabilities Approach, a revolutionary paradigm for achieving economic development and enhancing the status of women. In her lecture, Nussbaum linked the necessity for the free exercise of religion with the pursuit of justice for women, even when it means accommodating choices that we might find personally objectionable. “Equal respect for persons requires equal conditions of liberty,” Nussbaum argued. At its heart, the Capabilities Approach addresses these issues by insisting that the chief measure of any society is the concrete actions it has taken to enhance each individual’s capabilities and to ensure them the opportunity to express those capabilities.
—Mariz Tadros, Institute of Development Studies (UK)
“I would say that the transformative power is in those older visions of wisdom, and about balance. I think it goes to that third generation of human rights where we’re really trying to construct a different set of societies across the globe.” —R ebecca Tsosie, ASU Indian Legal Program
Engineering a new digital window on O
ne of the biggest challenges confronting researchers in the
humanities and social sciences is the explosion of information on the Internet. How can any one scholar hope to make sense of the continual flow of human communication? How do you decide what is important and what isn’t?
This was exactly the challenge that a group of researchers with the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict faced as they began the process of mapping networks of extremist and anti-extremist movements across the Muslim world. “Scholars in the humanities and social sciences have always confronted these kinds of questions. What is different today is the sheer size and scope of the archive and the exponential expansion in the number of commentators—any one of whom can gain influence,” says Linell Cady, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “In the past, there would have been certain institutional cues that one learned to look for, and only the work of certain individuals or institutions would have been worth looking at,” adds Cady, “ but with the rate that the Internet compiles documents and commentary, it was clear that we needed a fresh approach.” And a fresh approach is exactly what this team has been developing. Led by Mark Woodward, an anthropologist and associate professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, and Hasan Davulcu, an associate professor in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, this international team brings together scholars from the U.S., Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia that span the disciplinary spectrum, including history, sociology, political science, communications, religious studies, Islamic studies and computer science. “One of the biggest temptations facing
any researcher in today’s world is assuming that the conversation taking place on the Internet replicates what is happening on the ground,” says Woodward. “We took a different approach, and that was to start with a group of researchers who were intimately familiar with the religious and cultural nuances of the organizations and conversations that were happening on the ground and then looked at whether and how these groups, themes and topics were reflected on the Internet.” From the start, this approach enabled the team to begin developing a more dynamic research interface with a built-in feedback loop that provides some solutions to these challenges. By combining big data mining with ethnographic reasoning, the team has built new tools, algorithms, and
methodologies that enable the researchers to identify topics and discriminate among competing perspectives that drive the narratives and behaviors of diverse social movements. Researchers are also able to follow the ways in which these movements and organizations change over time and in different locations. Perhaps most fascinating has been seeing new understandings emerge about the process of social change, the role of religion in social change, as well the variables used to study it. For example, when the team mapped groups based on their relative desire for social change and their approach to making that change—from the civil to the violent—they discovered that liberal democratic feminists and Shariah-based nonviolent groups seeking to establish an Islamic state shared a similar
religious extremism position relative to seeking a change in the social order. Drawing on fundamental concepts from the study of religion, the team applied an additional set of variables to begin to distinguish among these different types of nonviolent radicalisms. Another key innovation is processing internet data in its natural language. “Almost all of the computationally-based digital humanities projects that we looked at require content to be translated into English before it can be analyzed,” says Davulcu. “We decided to develop an approach that extracts data in its natural language, for example, if it is in Indonesian or French we extract in Indonesian or French, and then we translate the findings into English. This means we have to worry less about whether the data has been corrupted in the translation
process prior to carrying out analysis,” says Davulcu. The team is now at the stage of developing more sophisticated models for both data input and data extraction, but with a base reliance on observations of people in the field. “Being a computer scientist who has been working on data mining algorithms for many years, I can’t begin to tell you how important the observations coming from people on the ground are. We can achieve a level of sociocultural modeling sophistication that just isn’t possible without this kind of synergy,” Davulcu adds.
“One of the biggest temptations facing any researcher in today’s world is assuming that the conversation taking place on the Internet replicates what is happening on the ground.” The team is supported by a grant from the Minerva Research Initiative, an initiative of the Secretary of Defense aimed at building deeper understanding of the social, cultural, and political dynamics that shape today’s world. In 2011, they won the DoD’s Human Social Culture Behavior Modeling Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement.
Islam and Islamism in the Arab Spring A year after the Arab Spring, Middle East expert Asef Bayat visited the Center to discuss the role of Islamism during and since the revolutions. Bayat, the inaugural holder of the Aga Khan Visiting Professorship of Islamic Humanities at Brown University and a professor of sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is the author of Making Islam Democratic (2007) and Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (2010). In his talk and the question and answer period that followed, Bayat outlined the underlying economic, social and cultural shifts that have taken shape in the Middle East over the last few decades without which the Arab Spring would not have been possible. Key among these shifts were increasing social and economic cleavages resulting from a new ethos of urbanism and consumerism coupled with the effects of economic restructuring and unemployment caused by IMF and World Bank policies; the rise of instantaneous global media from Al Jazeera to Facebook; and ultimately the failure of political Islam throughout the region to deliver on its promises of corrupt-free judicial systems and its on-going use of violence in the name of Islam. While Islamism remains a major concern, Bayat’s research suggests that these movements have transformed in recent decades and cannot be seen as a single monolith. He coined the phrase “post-Islamist” to describe the shift of many Islamist political parties away from a mission to impose an absolutist view of Islam and towards an approach that draws on Islamic values of tolerance and pluralism as the basis for democratic governance. Bayat anticipated that the road ahead will be rocky for some time to come and, while not able to predict the long-term prospects of any revolution, he was optimistic that the underlying structural shifts that gave rise to the revolutions would continue to shape the emergence of democratic institutions and civil society in the Middle East. To listen to a podcast of Bayat’s talk, “Beyond the Arab Spring,” go to csrc.asu.edu and click on the podcast link.
What motivates generosity?
ANY PEOPLE HAVE IT IN THEIR HEARTS TO BE GENEROUS, BUT WHAT MOTIVATES
THEIR ACTIONS? GENEROSITY IS ACCEPTED AND ENCOURAGED AS A PRACTICE, BUT THE REASONS BEHIND THE BEHAVIOR ARE NOT WELL UNDERSTOOD. AN INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAM OF FACULTY WORKING WITH THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RELIGION AND CONFLICT IS EXPLORING WHAT MOTIVATES PEOPLE TO BE GENEROUS AND HOW RELIGION INFLUENCES THEIR ACTIONS. 10
The study is funded through a grant from the John Templeton Foundation/University of Notre Dame Science of Generosity Initiative. Aspects of generosity that researchers are examining include how one person’s kindness to others affects the recipient’s kindness in the future and what the difference is between those who are giving and those who aren’t. “Generosity is an important part of human behavior that we don’t know much about,” said Carolyn Warner, ASU School of Politics and Global Studies professor and principal investigator for the ASU project. “It wouldn’t hurt if there were more of it in the world.” Warner and her team are identifying generosity motivators in religions through a comparative study of Muslims and Catholics. Their aim is to discover aspects of religion that motivate people to give of their time, effort and financial resources, and how those motivators might be similar or different in
study positive aspects of religion two of the world’s major religions. “There have been studies about people who are religious that find that they tend to be more generous than people who aren’t. There’s a debate about that. We aren’t trying to determine whether people who are religious are more or less generous,” Warner said. “What we want to know is what is it in the religious experience that might prompt generosity.” ASU psychology professor Adam Cohen and Ramazan Kilinc, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska, joined Warner as co-principal investigators in the study that took them to Dublin, Milan, Paris and Istanbul.
“For many of the study participants, the experience of being generous is, in and of itself, profoundly religious.”
“We traveled to these countries because of the focus on Catholicism and Islam,” Warner said. Researchers examined factors within each religion that might motivate generosity, such as a sense of duty to one’s God, the love of Jesus or Mohammad, feelings of being blessed and the way each religion is organized. The work involved interviews, participating in religious group activities and conducting experiments. “These kinds of studies are very important for understanding the varied role that religion plays in society,” said Linell Cady, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. “So much attention is focused on conflict that attention is needed to understand those values and resources within religion that provide the building blocks for strong, vibrant communities.” The study’s findings were extremely clear in some cases such as motivation to give. Muslims strongly feel that if they are blessed then they have an obligation to God to share with those less fortunate than themselves. They also feel that they are following in the
footsteps of the Prophet Mohammad by being charitable to others. Catholics don’t see an obligation to God as a primary motivator to help others; instead, their love for Jesus motivates them to help others. Commonalities were also apparent. Members of both religions were more likely to volunteer to help if the person asking for the donation was personally known to the member, such as an imam, priest or other person who is admired within the religious institution. Another common thread exists within the positive experience of giving and actually connecting with people you are helping, such as working at a soup kitchen and sitting down to eat with someone who is down on their luck. A third commonality was an extensive reliance on volunteers to help sustain the religious entity, such as the parish church or Islamic association. Researchers found that Catholicism is less hierarchical than commonly thought. Many religious functions are carried out by the laity, and they respond by helping. Muslims also felt a strong sense of responsibility to contribute to the daily functions of their religious associations. “People are very giving,” Warner said. “Community is very important for Muslims and Catholics, not in terms of peer pressure to behave in certain ways, but because they like being with other people. They find it gratifying to help others and to interact with those in need.” Another finding points to the crucial roles of religious organizations in connecting people who need help with government social service organizations. “They are the ones often making the connection and bringing that person to the state or city office to start getting help,” Warner said. “They fill in the cracks, along with secular volunteer groups.” Challenges that the researchers needed to overcome during the study included gaining access to parishioners in the Catholic churches and organizing psychology experiments with Catholics and Muslims in Dublin and Istanbul, respectively.
“So much attention is focused on conflict that attention is needed to understand those values and resources within religion that provide the building blocks for strong, vibrant communities.” “Catholics are more reticent to talk about money or the extent to which they are helping others. They are supposed to be modest about those things,” Warner said. “The Islamic associations we worked with were open to our study because they welcomed the opportunity to help increase the understanding of Islam.” The experiments were conducted on site with people from the community. “We wanted to find out how the religions affect their believers in their own settings,” Warner said. Officials from both religions expressed interest in learning about the primary generosity motivators among their members. “People are interested in finding out about their own religion,” Warner said. “For many of the study participants, the experience of being generous is, in and of itself, profoundly religious.” Story by Julie Newberg, ASU Media Relations
Building Better Humans?:
Project culminates in new book
MAGINE A SITUATION IN WHICH A PARENT IGNORES THE YELLS FOR HELP OF A
DROWNING CHILD BECAUSE THE PARENT HAD BEEN GENETICALLY “ENHANCED” AS AN EMBRYO TO BE HIGHLY TASK-FOCUSED—A SORT OF PERMANENT PRE-BIRTH “TREATMENT” FOR ATTENTIONDEFICIT DISORDER. COULD THAT PARENT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHILD’S DEATH? THAT IS JUST ONE OF MANY INTERESTING AND CONTROVERSIAL SCENARIOS ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY FACULTY MEMBERS CONSIDER IN A NEW VOLUME OF ESSAYS, “BUILDING BETTER HUMANS? REFOCUSING THE DEBATE ON TRANSHUMANISM.”
e have reached a point W where three questions should be asked: what are we doing, why are we doing it, and is this the outcome we want?
Transhumanism is a movement that promotes advanced technology for the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual enhancement of the human species. It is the transition phase toward the posthuman age in which intelligent machines will substitute for and eventually discard biological humans, according to Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, a history professor at ASU and one of the book’s editors. “Transhumanism is not a silly idea dreamed up by a few naïve techno-optimists,” says Tirosh-Samuelson. “It is a serious
exploring transhumanist scenarios engagement of intelligent, innovative, creative scientists, engineers and computer specialists all over the world.” The essays in this volume, penned by faculty from diverse disciplines including law, physics, life sciences, engineering and religious studies, are largely critical of transhumanism. At the same time, they admit that biotechnology is an important social force that will continue to transform our lives. “The goal of the book is to inspire conversation and debate about changes envisioned by advocates of transhumanism,” says Tirosh-Samuelson, “so that we will at least be aware of what is at stake in the processes ahead.” For example, one author discusses the possibility of the emergence of a “superior race”—a society of posthumans who are still considered human but have extraordinary capabilities beyond what normal humans have. Another essay ponders whether transhumanists’ attempts to change human nature violate the right of future generations to have that human nature. The ideas behind transhumanism come from some familiar sources. In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin suggested that rapid scientific advancement could one day cure all diseases, including old age. Celebrated American biologist J.B.S. Haldane, one of the giants of evolutionary biology, predicted in a 1923 book that humanity would eventually be improved by application of the emerging science of genetics. British biologist-author Julian Huxley coined the word transhumanism in 1957. He defined it as man transcending himself and developing a new human nature. Franklin, Haldane and Huxley are among the “founding fathers” that current transhumanists point to as their inspiration. Today, the transhumanist organization HumanityPlus has about 6,000 members in more than 100 countries around the world. The movement has gained force and charted new directions in recent years as the pace of technological advances in the human biological sciences has increased. The
Human Genome Project, breakthroughs in cloning and robotics, and other technological achievements have made the dreams of change appear very close to reality. In an introduction to “Building Better Humans?,” ASU President Michael M. Crow contends that we have arrived at a new evolutionary phase—“selfdirected evolution”—in which humans have the capacity to shape not only the outcomes in our environment but also to
“Building Better Humans?” is the culmination of a six-year project at ASU involving faculty from across the university exploring the social, legal, ethical and religious implications of the futuristic scenario that transhumanism promises. directly shape our organisms through selfenhancement. “As a consequence,” writes Crow, “we have reached a point where three questions should be asked: what are we doing, why are we doing it, and is this the outcome we want?” The book’s authors do not attempt to settle the debate but rather to provide new perspectives that can both enlarge the scope of the debate and bring it into sharper focus. The essays are grouped into four sections: transhumanism and world religions, transhumansim and medical enhancement, transhumanism and the human person, and transhumanism as a futuristic vision: the interplay of technology and culture. “Building Better Humans?” is the culmination of a six-year project at ASU involving faculty from across the university exploring the social, legal, ethical and
religious implications of the futuristic scenario that transhumanism promises. The project included seminars, visiting scholars, public lectures and workshops, all funded by a grant from the Metanexus Institute and the John Templeton Foundation. The project operated under the auspices of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, an interdisciplinary research unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU that examines the role of religion as a driving force in human affairs. “This was an enormously productive project,” says Linell Cady, director of the center. “Over the course of the project we named 5 fellows, brought in 23 visiting speakers, held 9 public lectures and 3 workshops, and produced 5 books and 2 special journal issues. It really demonstrates the impact of crossdisciplinary collaboration.” Tirosh-Samuelson is a member of the center’s advisory committee and an affiliated faculty member. The center recently received an additional grant to continue the investigation into transhumanism. Tirosh-Samuelson will serve as a principal investigator on that project as well. “Building Better Humans?” was published by the international academic publishing company Peter Lang as the third volume in a series titled “Beyond Humanism: Trans- and Posthumanism.” For more information, visit the website www.transhumanism.asu.edu. Story by Barby Grant
illuminate the sources and dynamics of religion and
conflict in the contemporary world imagine new approaches to old problems
Beyond Fundamentalism Reza Aslan electrified a crowd at the Great Hall in October 2011. Addressing the post-revolutionary landscape in the Middle East, Aslan, a best-selling author and media commentator, argued that in the long-term the best solution to religious extremism was democracy.
Beyond Belief The Great Hall was packed for this lecture by Elaine Pagels, a leading scholar of early Christianity. By focusing on texts such as the Gospel of Thomas, Pagels shows how conflicts within traditions—especially over the role of women—continue to impact issues in the present-day.
and the Search for Peace Sari Nusseibeh, political philosopher, long-time voice for nonviolence in the Middle East, and president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, presented a provocative new approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on his 2011 book, What’s a Palestinian State Worth?.
Taking Women and Religion Seriously
Is religion bad for women? Or does it help advance economic development and human rights? Katherine Marshall, a former World Bank senior advisor, addressed these questions based on three decades of international work in which she forged new thinking about women, faith and development.
a Decade Makes: Religion, Politics and Public Life How did 9/11 impact awareness about religion, politics and violence, nationally and globally? What new challenges surfaced and what can we expect in the next decade? These questions framed a dynamic dialogue among a panel of ASU faculty, students and the community.
Missed a lecture? Listen to a podcast via the center’s iTunesU site at csrc.asu.edu
inspires new deepens global understanding
approaches to religiously-charged conflict
New courses, scholarships take students to FRIENDS OF THE CENTER STUDENT RESEARCH AWARDS Made possible by annual gifts to the Friends of the Center, this new program was established in 2011–12 to provide grants to graduate and undergraduate students for innovative research projects and international engagement. The winners were honored at an awards ceremony held at the Center in Spring 2012.
Gabrielle Filip-Crawford Doctoral Student in Psychology Project Advisor: Steven Neuberg, Foundation
Rachel Bishop Barrett, the Honors College/Global Studies Major
Professor of Psychology
Thesis Advisor: John Carlson, Associate
The Effects of Tolerance Messages on Religiously-Infused Conflict Messages of tolerance inherent in most major world religions have long been conceptualized as a possible means for reducing group conflict. Using data collected by the Center’s Global Group Relations Project, Filip-Crawford explores the extent to which different kinds of tolerance messages, different sources of such messages, and the desires groups have for constructive dialogue, predict or moderate various forms of intergroup conflict (e.g. discrimination, symbolic aggression, or violence). Previous research by Filip-Crawford indicates that relationships between religiosity and prejudice can be moderated by tolerance interventions. This research enables a more precise examination of the role that various features of religion play in predicting conflict or constructive dialogue.
Professor of Religious Studies
Bolivia Quaker Education Fund/Alternatives to Violence Project Bishop traveled to Bolivia during the summer of 2012 to work as an intern with the Bolivian Quaker Education Fund. While in Bolivia, Bishop learned about the Quaker’s Alternatives to Violence Project, observing how the Quaker belief that “there exists an inborn power for peace in every person” shapes conflict resolution programs in use in prisons, schools and communities. She plans to pursue a career in conflict-resolution and peacebuilding work that draws upon religion as a vehicle for enacting positive change. This project allowed her to see how such programs work internationally. She plans to continue to explore how these ideas might be adapted to the U.S.
Cheikh Amadou Bamba Seye Master’s Student in Religious Studies
Brittany Morris Barrett, the Honors College/Journalism Major
Thesis Advisor: Chad Haines, Assistant
Project Advisor: Mark Montesano, Honors
Peacebuilding and Anti-Violence in Mouridism: Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba as the First Advocate of Religious Nonviolence Mouridism is a Senegal-based Islamic Sufi order founded by Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba in 1895 as a nonviolent resistance movement to French colonization. Seye’s project explores the religious and philosophical underpinnings of the movement and its potential as a resource in the global effort to counter religious extremism. How did Mouridism define nonviolence and how did the reaction of the French colonizers shape its development? Was Bamba’s conception of nonviolence different from the nonviolence advocated by his successors Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King? Was the nonviolence geared towards political or social ends or was it purely religious? What role can Mouridism play as a resource for religiously-inspired peacebuilding today?
Women and the Veil in France under President Nicholas Sarkozy Morris will be interviewing Muslim women in France for a documentary film she is preparing on women and the Qur’an in modern Islam. A major focus of these interviews is to see how women understand their rights under Islam and within French society. France is an especially important place to study this issue because while Muslim women may feel pressure from within their communities to wear the veil as an emblem of their identity or of their personal piety, they are prohibited from doing so under a ban spearheaded by Sarkozy. Morris hopes to use her documentary to bring attention to how Muslim women experience the social and political dynamics affecting their lives.
Professor of Religious Studies
See related story on page 21
Faculty Fellow, Barrett, The Honors College
new places HARDT-NICKACHOS PEACE STUDIES ENDOWMENT Dedicated to the broad, interdisciplinary study of humanity’s imagination of peace and efforts to construct peace historically and in the present day, the Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Endowment supports activities including lectures, research symposia, student programs and curriculum development. In 2011–12, grants to faculty led to the creation of the following new courses.
Nonviolence and the Civil Rights Movement
Peace, Prosperity and Conflict
Instructor: Keith Miller, Professor of English
Instructor: David Siroky, Assistant Professor
First taught: Spring 2012
of Politics and Global Studies
Cross-listed in English, Religious Studies and History
First taught: Fall 2012
Listed in Political Science
Keith Miller, a leading expert on the rhetoric of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the author most recently of Martin Luther King’s Biblical Epic: His Final, Great Speech (University of Mississippi Press, 2011), created this course on the philosophy, language, history and tactics of nonviolence during the civil rights movement. The course also explored the ongoing impact of the civil rights movement on international movements and contemporary political theories of nonviolence.
This course examines the economic dimensions of peace within the field of international relations. In addition to looking at how issues of ethnic conflict and civil war impact prospects for peace, the course also looks more deeply at issues of religious-based cooperation and conflict resolution.
The Promise of Nonviolence: Philosophical, Religious and Historical Foundations Instructors: Mark Montesano, Honors Faculty
Fellow, and Linell Cady, Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies First taught: Spring 2012 Cross-listed in Religious Studies, Honors This course explores the philosophy and practice of non-violence, with a primary focus on 20th century expressions across multiple traditions and regions. Given the sophistication and range of Gandhi’s influence, significant attention is paid to his legacy. The course considers a range of perspectives on nonviolence, including the psychological, political, ethical, and theological, in an effort to critically engage and assess its strengths, weaknesses, power and potential for the 21st century.
Imagining Peace and Non/Violent Transformations Instructor: Martin Matuštík, Lincoln
Professor of Ethics and Religion First taught: Fall 2012
Cross-listed in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, English, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Honors Inspired by the John Lennon Wall in Prague and his own experience in the Velvet Revolution, this course draws on philosophical and religious ideas, fiction and art, political protest and religious invocations, to explore the political aesthetics and cultural history of peace as a source of hope for, as well as an obstacle to, social transformation. Central to this exploration is the question of whether every form of transformation— religious or secular, activist or passive—is unavoidably violent.
Religion, peace and alternatives
“Losing the structure, politics, and rhetoric of institutionalized religion that so often plays a role in creating division and conflict, what was left were the universal appeals to humanity—relatable to people of all faiths and those who practice no faith at all.”
Center scholarship supports a first-hand look
ACHEL BISHOP SERVED AS AN UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOW WITH THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RELIGION IN
2010–11. IN 2012, SHE TRAVELED TO BOLIVIA WITH SUPPORT FROM THE FRIENDS OF THE CENTER AWARDS PROGRAM TO LEARN FIRSTHAND ABOUT THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND NONVIOLENCE. THIS IS HER STORY. In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his book Stride Toward Freedom, “At the center of nonviolence, stands the principle of love.” Perhaps a perfect example of the intersection of religion and conflict resolution, King, a Baptist minister and a civil rights activist, cited love, not religion, as standing at the center of nonviolence. Throughout my studies of religion and conflict at ASU, I have been exposed to the numerous ways that religion plays a role in conflict resolution. This summer, however, I witnessed first hand a different way that religion actively serves as a catalyst towards peace, in a delicate balance of action and inaction. Working as an intern for the NGO Bolivian Quaker Education Fund, I was able to focus my efforts this summer as a volunteer for the non-profit organization Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). AVP grew out of a collaboration between a group of prison inmates in New York and the Quaker Project on Community Conflict in 1975. What emerged was an experiential prison workshop in conflict-resolution, responses to violence, and personal growth. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself working alongside Bolivian AVP facilitators in a juvenile prison called Qualauma. But, that is exactly where I found myself this summer. It was a challenging experience to be sure, filled with intense discussions on peace and nonviolence, individual struggles of the participants, and goals for the larger community. Always out of my comfort zone, I juggled speaking in Spanish (not my first language) and trying to be at ease in a room full of 25+ Bolivian young men (ages 14-22), who were—how
should I put this—overeager to be working with a female foreigner. However, surprisingly enough, out of an environment that would not quickly be described as positive, I emerged with an optimistic view of the positive ways that religion can aid towards peace efforts. During my internship, I asked my advisor (who is an AVP facilitator) if she would consider AVP to be a religious effort. Her response, “Absolutely not!,” surprised me. Given the fact that the very organization was founded by Quakers on a fundamental Quaker notion, the idea that there exists in every person an inborn power for peace, I assumed that AVP would consider itself to be religious. This assumption was far from true. One contributor to AVP’s success is that it is not blatantly religious. There is no religious rhetoric during the workshops, no reading from religious texts, and the organization and its participants are not defined as one single religious group. Yet, there are strong currents of religion running through AVP. From its initial founding, to the fact that many AVP facilitators are deeply religious people, religion cannot simply be taken out of the equation here. What’s more, one also cannot deny a certain religious/spiritual sentiment that seems to underlie all of the AVP workshops: a profession of unity and a calling to the greater good in all of humanity. So, how does this work? Religion is at once, taking a back seat and a fundamental part of the AVP experience. At first, this notion seemed counterintuitive to me. But after much thought, I don’t believe that it is. In fact, I believe this delicate balance that AVP has achieved, in regards to the use (and
non-use) of religion for conflict resolution purposes, could speak greatly to peace efforts on a larger scale. In this instance, religion takes a back seat by masking itself. Essentially, AVP took the most widely-applicable, overarching beliefs of religion and presented it as spirituality. Losing the structure, politics, and rhetoric of institutionalized religion that so often plays a role in creating division and conflict, what was left were the universal appeals to humanity—relatable to people of all faiths and those who practice no faith at all. To me, this is an interesting idea—to lose the “ego” of institutionalized religion that so often feels compelled to say “my way is the right way!” As King and many other leaders in the struggle for peaceful conflict resolution have realized, the foundation for peace lies in the most basic, elemental aspects of the human experience: love, unity, the collective experience of humanity. To this extent, religious efforts can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, most world religions speak directly to these elemental aspects. On the other hand, many religions and religious followers insist that their teachings alone are correct. By encouraging the aspects of religion that unite people and draw them to act towards peace, yet discouraging the aspects of religion that so often draw lines between and separate people, AVP achieved, in my opinion, a most effective use of religion in conflict resolution efforts. Rachel Bishop a student in Barrett, The Honors College, and a double-major in global studies and religious studies, graduated from ASU in summer 2012 on her return from Bolivia. Her honors thesis project explored the role of religion and violence in American history, but her real passions lie with finding alternatives to violence, work that she is continuing to pursue in the San Francisco Bay Area with AVP and the Metta Center for Nonviolence.
UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWS PROGRAM The Center’s Undergraduate Research Fellows—selected from a pool of outstanding applicants—take a special seminar with Center director Linell Cady, work directly with faculty members on research projects related to a broad range of issues, topics and approaches, and meet with visiting scholars and practitioners. Fellows are also awarded scholarships made possible through annual gifts to the Friends of the Center.
Undergraduate Research Fellows, 2011-12 Kristin T. D’Souza Majors: Justice Studies, Women Studies Faculty Mentor: Mirna Lattouf, Senior Lecturer, School of Letters and Sciences Project: “Arab Spring, Religion and Women in the Arab World” LeiAnna X. Hamel Majors: Religious Studies, Russian Language & Literature Faculty Mentor: Eugene Clay, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Project: “Race, Religion, and Pacifism in Russia and the American West”
“When I applied for the fellowship program I was intrigued by the option of working one-on-one with a faculty member. Undergraduate research is quite rare so the ability to partake in research was too good to pass up.”
J. Cameron Lincoln (Cameron) Major: Justice Studies Faculty Mentor: Mark Woodward, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Project: “Finding Allies for the War of Words: Mapping the Diffusion and Influence of Counter-radical Muslim Discourse”
“I found that the seminars were a great way of branching personal thoughts and research with the readings. It proved to be both informative and captivating as not everyone agreed on certain topics.” Nigah Mughal Major: Political Science Faculty Mentor: Yasmin Saikia, HardtNickachos Chair in Peace Studies and Professor of History Project: “Peace Studies: Journals, Centers, and Directions” Kaitlin O’Neil Majors: Political Science, History, Southeast Asian Studies Faculty Mentor: Chris Duncan, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Global Studies Project: “Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia” Shannon Osselaer Major: Global Studies Faculty Mentor: Abdullahi Gallab, Assistant Professor of African and African-American Studies and Religious Studies Project: “Islamism in the Crucible of Immigration”
Christopher Palfi Major: Religious Studies Faculty Mentor: Chris Duncan, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Global Studies Project: “Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia” Nisha Patel Major: Global Studies Faculty Mentor: Souad Ali, Head of Classics and Middle East Languages and Associate Professor of Arabic Literature and Middle East/Islamic Studies Project: “Kuwaiti Women in Leadership Positions” Benjamin Sanchez Majors: Economics, Geography Faculty Mentor: Brian Gratton, Professor of History Project: “Lobbying to Keep Them Out: A Research Project on Immigration Restriction in the United States”
“The best portions of the course were when people were questioning one another and not simply accepting everything someone had to say.” Louis Weimer Majors: History, Political Science Faculty Mentor: Mark Woodward, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Project: “Finding Allies for the War of Words: Mapping the Diffusion and Influence of Counter-radical Muslim Discourse”
Music as an instrument of peace When Bryan Tom first came to Tempe from Tucson, he had no idea that he would end up spending a year studying the music of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Tom, an ASU undergraduate student in the Barrett Honors College, was primarily interested in China and had set his sights on ASU because of its Chinese Language Flagship Program. As part of a State Department grant, Tom learned to speak Mandarin and studied abroad in Shanghai for a year. Upon his return, however, Tom’s interest in learning about other cultures led him to the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict’s Undergraduate Research Fellows Program. As part of the Fellows Program, Tom participated in a project called “Finding Allies in the War of Words: Mapping the Diffusion and Influence of Counter-Radical Muslim Discourse.” Directed by religious studies professor Mark Woodward, the project focuses on Southeast Asia, West Africa and Western Europe to map the role that Muslim social, cultural, religious and political movements play in defeating Islamic extremism. Tom contributed by studying the role that music plays in promoting anti-extremist messages. “Ethnographic research overseas revealed a number of popular musical movements that were explicitly counterextremist,” says Diana Coleman, a graduate research assistant who works on the project and, along with Woodward, mentored Tom. “More research was needed on this topic so Bryan provided background research on current debates about the permissibility of music in Islam.”
She explains that through his research, he tracked current trends of expression in Southeast Asia, West Africa and Europe, which included both traditional music and emerging genres like Muslim punk and rap. His research provided information that helped shaped surveys about anti-extremist views across the three regions. Undergraduate students receive extensive mentorship and build relationships with both
graduate students and professors as part of the Fellows Program. Tom says the center is like a small family and everyone continues to remain close even after the fellowship is over. “I’ve stayed in touch with quite a few of the people from the Fellows program and have that connection base now,” he says. In addition to his experience as an Undergraduate Fellow with the Center, Tom has held internships with the U.S. Department of State, USAID and Goldman Sachs. He was a Boren National Security Education Program (NSEP) scholarship winner, a participant in ASU’s Spirit of Service Scholar Program, and an International Leadership Foundation Fellow in Washington, DC. Tom will graduate in December 2012 with a major in economics and minors in Mandarin and mathematics and plans to pursue a career in foreign relations. He says his dream is to work for the U.N. within their economic and social policy division or become a foreign policy advisor in Asia. When he came to ASU, Tom didn’t think the study of religion would be a big facet of his undergraduate education. He says his work with the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict opened his eyes to issues he had never thought about before. “It’s amazing how much you have to take culture into context when shaping economic policy,” Tom says. Story by Samantha Womer, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development
The undergraduate certificate program
The program began awarding certificates in 2009 and since then has graduated 51 students, including students who earned certificates in 2011-12:
allows students from any major to
•C ameron Bean (Political Science)
pursue a cross-disciplinary program of
•R achel Bishop (Global Studies)
study. Established with support from
•G ary Escobar (History, Religious Studies)
the Ford Foundation, the program
•R achel Page Gerrick (Religious Studies)
includes courses from faculty in ten
•Y alda Godusi (Global Studies)
different fields of study, including
•L eiAnna Hamel (Religious Studies, Russian Language & Literature)
UNDERGRADUATE CERTIFICATE IN RELIGION AND CONFLICT
such topics as “Religion, Violence and Conflict Resolution,” “Religion, Ethics and International Affairs,” “National Security and International Terrorism,” and “Gandhi and the Politics of Nonviolence.”
• J onathan Khalife (Religious Studies) •A lesandro Norton (Political Science) •N isha Patel (Global Studies) • J orga Patterson (History) •V alentino Popoca (Religious Studies) •T ye Rabens (Journalism) •R ichard Ricketts (Religious Studies, Religion and Applied Ethics Studies) •M alvika Sinha (Global Studies) •L ouis Weimer (History, Political Science)
of the center for the study of religion and conflict Friends of the Center provide annual gifts to help support the research and education initiatives of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Gifts to the Friends of the Center help expand student fellowship programs; bring innovative scholars, writers and practitioners to campus; and help build a network for research and dissemination that includes students, faculty, professionals, practitioners and policy experts. The Center thanks the many friends that contributed to our sustained progress during the 2011â€“12 academic year.
Lifetime Friends Ann Hardt Stan and Tochia Levine Maxine and Jonathan Marshall John and Dee Whiteman Platinum (up to $25,000) Tom and Ruth Ann Hornaday Doug and Becky Pruitt Lisa Watkins and Linda Brock Gold (up to $2,500) Perry and Margaret Gooch I. Jerome Hirsch Richard and Sally Lehmann Kevin and Yolanda McAuliffe Richard and Elaine Morrison John Roberts Maroon (up to $1000) Anonymous Susan and William Ahearn Linell Cady Penny Davis John and Judith Ellerman Sandy Lambert David and Joan Lincoln Donald and Irene Lubin Roselyn Oâ€™Connell Harold and Doreen Saferstein Thomas and Vicky Taradash Gene and Cooky Tarkoff Carole Weiss
Silver (up to $250) Uta M. Behrens Pauline G. Blair Peter and Alice Buseck George Cady Calvary Church of the Valley Martha J. Campbell Jane Canby Edward Chulew Charles Coronella Sue Ellen Davis Ford Doran Carolyn Forbes Mary Anna Friederich Bernard Goldstein Jennifer E. Grossman Robert Hardy Vernon Higginbotham Doris Horn Sol Jaffe Dale M. Kalika Arif A. Kazmi Pamela Keating Marlene Maddalone Tom and Mary Kay Obert C.R. Paul Paul Putz Carol Rose Warren and Martha Salinger Donald K. Sharpes Marjorie Thornton Roberta Van der Walde Susan Weidner Gwen Williams Robin Wright
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2011-12 Annual Report of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict