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Message from the Director
t has been a busy year at the Center! I am grateful to John Carlson for stepping in as director while I was on leave. Under his leadership the CSRC team continued to increase its footprint and impact. Although many of you know us through our large public lectures, most of our work happens “backstage” at the Center. Faculty are collaborating on a broad range of research projects that tackle some of the most challenging issues of our time. One of our faculty teams is tracking forms of religio-political violence and counter-violence across Western Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and West Africa. They have received multiple grants totaling close to $10M dollars in federal funding, and regularly publish and report their findings in DC. Another faculty group is pursuing an initiative on global citizenship with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation. Although the idea of global citizenship has gained traction in some circles, including higher education, it is encountering strong headwinds from nationalist, sectarian, and ethnic forms of identity. How we—meaning Americans and the rest of the world— negotiate the processes of globalization will make an enormous difference to the state of human affairs in the 21st century. Our efforts to expand global understanding have led to two major faculty exchange initiatives with institutions of higher education in Pakistan—both supported by the Department of State. This past year eight Pakistani scholars were in residence at the Center for up to a semester, and ASU faculty have visited Pakistan as well. I invite you to browse through our report to find out what is happening behind the scenes. Get acquainted with the faculty and their innovative research, and read about our programs and amazing students. There is so much work to be done to advance a world of tolerance and diversity, and a peace built on justice not force. Please consider joining our efforts with a gift to the Center that will sustain and expand our work. With best wishes,
Table of Contents
CSRC Year in Review
Research Religion and Global Citizenship
Advancing Global Understanding Through Mutual Exchange
Through the Looking Glass: Harnessing Big Data to Respond to Violent Extremism
New Book Explores Transhumanism and Its Social and Ethical Implications
Chair of Peace Studies Spends Summers in War-Torn Areas
Scholars Who Serve
Major Events Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence
What Citizens Owe Strangers: Human Rights, Migrants and Refugees
Religious Violence in the Age of Enlightenment
Afghanistan, Syria, and ISIS 19 Harvey Cox, Renowned Theologian, in Residence at the Center, Lectures on â€œThe Future of Faithâ€?
Education Exploring the Writings of Malcolm X as an Undergraduate Research Fellow
Making a Difference: Advancing the Center Through Individual Philanthropy
Friends of the Center Research Awards
Student Explores Religious Conflict and Democracy Through Fellows Program and Research Awards
Undergraduate Research Fellows, 2015-16
Undergraduate Certificate in Religion and Conflict
About the Center
CSRC Year in Review Highlights from the 2015-16 Academic Year
August International Conference on Religion and Global Citizenship, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in partnership with the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue at the University of Malaya
September Marshall Speaker Series • Benjamin Kaplan: Religious Violence in the Age of Enlightenment Conversations at the Center • Miriam Cooke: Choreographing the Trauma of the Syrian Revolution • Panel on Violence and Vulnerable Communities: with Kamran Ali, Miriam Cooke, William Hart
Hardt-Nickachos Peace Initiative • Peace Studies Film Festival, with discussions led by ASU’s Council of Religious Advisors, and ASU professors Sonja Klinsky, Chad Haines, and Devorah Manekin
October Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions Lecture Series • Karen Armstrong: “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence”
November Conversations at the Center • Kanza Javed: “Feminist Writing from Pakistan: Remembrance of Being”
• Anand Gopal: “Afghanistan, Syria, and ISIS”
Announcement of 2015–16 Undergraduate Research Fellows Launch of Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminar: Religion and Global Citizenship Launch of Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminar: Religion, Sports, and Violence
Symposium on Comparative Genocide, (with the Institute for Humanities Research, the Center for Jewish Studies, and the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies)
• Eric Bain-Selbo: “Sacred Battles: Violence in Southern Sport Culture”
January Harvey Cox begins month long residency at the Center
Release of Perfecting Human Futures: Transhuman Visions and Technological Imaginations, edited by J. Benjamin Hurlbut and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson
Conversations at the Center • Michael Barnett: “Human Rights and Humanitarianism: Distinctions With or Without a Difference?”
May Friends of the Center Student Research Awards Announced
• Harvey Cox: “The Future of Faith”
Presentation by Matt Correa at Brophy College Prep Summit on Human Dignity
Saifiya Fawad Cheema and Zahra Hanif, third cohort of Visiting Scholars from Kinnaird College for Women (Pakistan), begin residencies at CSRC Seemab Far Bukhari, Rahla Rahat, M. Akram Soomro, and Ahmed Usman, first cohort of Visiting Scholars from University of Punjab (Pakistan), begin residencies at CSRC
Interactions and Interchanges: Literature, Culture, Globlalization Lecture Series • Robert McKee Irwin: “Undocumented Literature,” (with the Department of English)
February Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions Lecture Series • Michael Ignatieff:“What Citizens Owe Strangers: Human Rights, Migrants and Refugees”
April Trending Pakistan: A History Workshop, an international workshop on the current state and future direction of Pakistan studies, in collaboration with the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS)
Conversations at the Center • Claire M. Renzetti: “By the Grace of God: Religiosity, Religious Self-Regulation, and the Perpetration of Intimate Partner Violence,” (with Women and Gender Studies, the School of Social Transformation, and the School of Social Work).
• Michael Barnett: “Special Lecture and Book Signing: The Star and The Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews,” (with the Center for Jewish Studies) • Daisy Khan: “Islam and Democracy During Global Transitions,” (with the Council for Arabic and Islamic Studies) Interactions and Interchanges: Literature, Culture, Globlalization Lecture Series • Rachel Lee: “Diffracting Posthumanities with Intersectionality,” (with the Department of English)
2015-16 Certificates in Religion and Conflict awarded
Hosted delegation from Aligarh Muslim University (Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India)
Religion and Global Citizenship
Religion and Global Citizenship is a research project co-directed by Linell Cady and John Carlson. Funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the initiative pays primary attention to the relations— of conflict and cooperation—between global citizenship and religious identities and universalisms. International Workshop – Kuala Lumpur The project’s first international workshop was held August 2-4, 2015, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in collaboration with the University of Malaya’s Centre for Civilisational Dialogue. The workshop brought together a group of scholars with expertise in a range of geographic locations (India, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States), disciplines (sociology, education, women’s studies, religious studies, Islamic studies, peace studies, and global studies), and focus areas (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, feminism, and ethnicity). The panel discussions addressed three main topics: sites of global citizenship, global citizenship and religion, and global citizenship from local perspectives. Key questions that were addressed included: where is the idea of global citizenship used
or enacted? How have particular religious traditions (both from theological and lived religion perspectives) envisioned their relationship to humanity as a whole? How does religion relate to national identity and citizenship in different country contexts? How has religion fostered or undermined “good citizenship”? Does global citizenship make room for local interests and perspectives?
Visiting Scholars there are very common human virtues. The During the year the project was greatly enriched virtues of resilience, the virtues of forgiveness, through special sessions with visiting scholars I saw those virtues on display everywhere. We who brought a depth of experience in working have common virtues because we have common through these issues as academics and as public experiences, of suffering, of shame, of having intellectuals with considerable experience outside to forgive our enemies or not. These are deeply the university. They included journalist and universal experiences. author Anand Gopal; Michael Ignatieff, a scholar Having taught human rights for 25 years, one and former politician; and Michael Barnett, a of the surprises when you go around the world professor of international affairs and political is that almost no one on the ground uses human science. Each of them also gave public lectures to rights to figure out whether they should forgive the broader community and met with groups of someone, or whether they should be resilient in students and other interested faculty. John Carlson the face of disaster, or whether they should trust had an opportunity to interview someone. Human rights is an Ignatieff. The following elite language used by state interview excerpts are edited for “We live in a world actors and lawyers. On the length and clarity. ground, that’s not the language in which we can’t John Carlson: Can you talk you see. The language you see call on one common about the importance of an is a complex mixture of faith, interdisciplinary project on in some cases, moral intuition global ethic or one global citizenship? on the other, life experience, common thing like what my mum told me, what Michael Ignatieff: Global my dad told me, little snippets citizenship is a key idea. God human rights to hold of poetry that they live by. knows we need a little more us together. We’re We put a moral vocabulary global citizenship. We’re a together, increasingly, of our fractured world, a fragmented called upon, as a own devising. I still think that world, and any way in which consequence, to a religion happens to be the most we can think about what we enduring source of that moral hold in common and how we constant dialogue of vocabulary. Even for people work across barriers of race, understanding.” who are not religious, Biblical class, gender and religion has to verses come unbidden to their be a good thing. minds from their childhood and stuff. That A lot of those conversations are best conducted at becomes the foundational moral language for a university in fact, by people who have studied most people, not human rights. deeply in many cultures and faiths...a good We live in a plural world. We live in a world in academic is a border crosser, is always exploring which we can’t call on one common global ethic across the frontiers, out of their zone of comfort, or one common thing like human rights to hold to other people’s realities and experience. us together. We’re called upon, as a consequence, Carlson: What foundations for human to a constant dialogue of understanding, where rights, particularly the religious ones, are what we’re doing, what we do in ordinary life, is more important than you might have first ask: “Where are you coming from? Here’s where thought? I’m coming from. What’s the distance between Ignatieff: I’ve had the good fortune to go these positions? How do we get so we even around the world in the last three years for the partially understand where we are?” Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs, holding global ethical dialogues with a whole range of groups, not academics, but judges, cops, and people recovering from the Fukushima disaster, Japanese farmers. We were looking for ethical commonalities. First of all, it’s clear that 5
Michael Ignatieff is a former politician, a scholar, and a prolific writer on political philosophy, international affairs, and conflicts caused by ethnic and religious strife. Ignatieff is the Edward R. Murrow Professor of the Practice of Politics and the Press at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Advancing Global Understanding Through Mutual Exchange
The Center’s Pakistani cohorts, while in residence at ASU, visited Monument Valley, AZ with other international exchange scholars.
“These exchange programs are mutually beneficial — academically and generally. It has given our female practitioners exposure to U.S. educational systems, research collaboration, and fostering friendships. It [has given] American universities the opportunity to reach out to a larger audience and promote American studies and literature in our part of the world.”
ands go up in a crowded ASU lecture hall when a social justice course instructor asks who has ever experienced prejudice. The instructor asks another question: Are any of you willing to share that experience? The hands start going down. One girl, toward the front, keeps hers raised. The instructor gestures for her to speak, and the room gets quiet. The student tells how she no longer feels comfortable wearing her hijab on campus because of the negative comments and looks it elicits from people. That was in 2007. Nearly a decade later, American perceptions of Muslims have arguably become even more adverse due to factors like the rise of militant extremist groups, such as ISIS, who commit mass global terror attacks, allegedly in the name of Islam. At the same time, the Muslim world’s perception of the Western world has become increasingly circumspect due to various factors, such as American military presence in Middle Eastern countries where Islam is largely practiced. “When I went [to Pakistan] in the 1990s, I couldn’t walk down the street without people saying, ‘You’re American? Come in for tea,’” Chad Haines said. “In 2009 when I went as a Fulbright Fellow it was a different story.” Haines, assistant professor in the School of 6
Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, and faculty affiliate of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, serves as the principal investigator for one of two academic exchange programs between ASU and universities in Pakistan. The first, which began in the fall of 2014, is with Kinnaird College for Women, and the second, launched in the fall of 2015, is with the University of the Punjab. The programs, each lasting three years, are made possible by two separate $1 million grants from the U.S. State Department to ASU’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, which facilitates the programs. Their goal is to foster understanding and establish long-term, ongoing relationships between Pakistani academic institutions of higher learning and those in the United States. That goal is achieved by the exchange of faculty members each semester, where they take seminars which teach them about U.S. teaching methods and pedagogy, have discussions about differences and similarities between cultures and present research. As Carolyn Forbes, assistant director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, puts it, “One of the ways you build peace is through these kinds of exchanges — creating dialogues across these cultural spaces.” Forbes worked with each program’s team to
develop the proposals for the grants. Invaluable to that process was Yasmin Saikia, the HardtNickachos Chair in Peace Studies and professor of history at the Center. A native of India, Saikia’s studies focus on the histories of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Saikia points to the huge amount of conflict between neighboring countries India and Pakistan, which prompted her to wonder: “How did we get to the point where we live in a state of perpetual enmity?” “It’s troubling because you see that these things are made up; you realize the power of rhetoric and propaganda and bad governance,” she said. “[The area that includes] India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is the most populated region in the world, so governments wanted to control it. It’s an area where the world’s largest number of minorities are living side by side ... a mosaic of world religions, and they have been living together for ages, and suddenly they have started not just being enemies, but violently disliking one another. It’s a very important question to ask: How did this happen and what purpose does it serve? And you see that it doesn’t serve the purpose of people.” In response, Saikia made it her mission to “move outside of those given categories” and “start working on a different kind of history that brings people’s stories to the forefront. In doing that, you find that people are so similar.” The exchange between ASU and Kinnaird College for Women focuses on English and American literature. Claudia Sadowski-Smith, ASU associate professor of English and principal investigator for the Kinnaird exchange, said connecting across cultural boundaries via literature is a no-brainer: “Literature very often is engaged with thinking about identity, which might be identity in a national sense.... And literature personalizes stories of [political and global] developments that seem so systemic, so depersonalized. It humanizes a lot of these stories that we don’t always hear about, gives us perspective, counter-narratives and counter-discourses. “In that regard, allowing us to have seminars where we talk to each other and exchange ideas is powerful.” Nadia Anjum, head of postgraduate studies in the Department of English at Kinnaird College
for Women, said that the faculty there who have been participating in the program report feeling enriched and more confident. “Five have presented papers at international conferences, which surely is a great achievement,” Anjum said. “The research area each one took up has strengthened our program. “And these exchange programs are mutually beneficial — academically and generally. It has given our female practitioners exposure to U.S. educational systems, research collaboration and
fostering friendships. It [has given] American universities the opportunity to reach out to a larger audience and promote American studies and literature in our part of the world. Moreover, as felt and stated by the cohorts, [it gives Americans the opportunity for] ‘closer cultural ties and to see the real Pakistan (as opposed to the picture media portrays).’” The exchange between ASU and the University of the Punjab focuses on transdisciplinary approaches to communication and development studies. According to Saikia, the effects are already apparent. “It is remarkable to me that as an individual I can feel [the effects]. These are community issues, and one can do something about them. I appreciate that the U.S. Embassy and State Department have given us this opportunity to create these linkages.” Story by Emma Greguska, ASU Now
Kanza Javed chats with attendees at a meeting hosted by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at the University Club in Tempe on Nov. 2. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Through the Looking Glass: Harnessing Big Data to Respond to Violent Extremism
Countering violent extremism continues to be a key priority for governments around the globe. The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict’s LookingGlass project, featured in an article on Devex.com, is being piloted in Libya as part of a new partnership. LookingGlass maps the spread and influence of extremist and counterextremist narratives through social media analysis.
eople think and say all sorts of things that they would never actually do. One of the biggest challenges in countering violent extremism is not only figuring out which people hold radical views, but who is most likely to join and act on behalf of violent extremist organizations. Determining who is likely to become violent is key to designing and evaluating more targeted interventions, but it has proven to be extremely difficult. There are few recognized tools for assessing perceptions and beliefs, such as whether community sentiment about violent extremist organizations is more or less favorable, or which narratives and counternarratives resonate with vulnerable populations. Program designers and monitoring and evaluation staff often rely on perception surveying to assess attitudinal changes that countering violent extremism (CVE) programs try to achieve, but there are limitations to this method. Security and logistical challenges to collecting perception data in a conflict“Drawn from the humanities and affected community can make it difficult to get a representative social and computational sciences, sample. And given the LookingGlass retrieves, categorizes, and sensitivity of the subject matter, analyzes vast amounts of data from respondents may be reluctant to express their actual beliefs to an across the internet to map the spread outsider. of extremist and counter-extremist The rise of smartphone influence online.” technology and social media uptake among the burgeoning youth populations of many conflict-affected countries presents a new opportunity to understand what people believe from a safer distance, lessening the associated risks and data defects. Seeing an opportunity in the growing mass of online public data, the marketing industry has pioneered tools to “scrape” and aggregate the data to help companies paint a clearer picture of consumer behavior and perceptions of brands and products. These developments present a critical question for CVE programs: Could similar tools be developed that would analyze online public data to identify who is being influenced by which extremist narratives and influences, learn which messages go viral, and distinguish groups and individuals who simply hold radical views from those who support or carry out violence? 8
Using data to track radicalization Seeking to answer this question, researchers with Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict have been innovating a set of data analytics tools that map networks of perception, belief, and influence online. ASU and Chemonics International are now piloting the tool on a CVE program in Libya. Drawn from the humanities and social and computational sciences, LookingGlass retrieves, categorizes, and analyzes vast amounts of data from across the internet to map the spread of extremist and counter-extremist influence online. The tool displays what people think about their political situation, governments and extremist groups, and tracks changes in these perceptions over time and in response to events. It also lets users visualize how groups emerge, interact, coalesce, and fragment in relation to emerging issues and events and evaluates “information cascades” to assess what causes extremist messages to go viral on social media and what causes them to die out. For CVE planners, LookingGlass can map social movements in relation to specific countries and regions. Indonesia, for example, has been the site of numerous violent movements and events. A relatively young democracy, the country’s complex political environment encompasses numerous groups seeking radical change across a wide spectrum of social and political issues. The ASU team built a real-time, contextual and automated system that could distinguish the violent from the nonviolent among these groups and detect if and when groups or factions begin to move toward or away from violence, or when new groups emerge. It does this in Indonesia by collecting and analyzing large amounts of multilingual text collected from Twitter, websites, blogs, news sites, speeches, images and videos to discover hotly debated issues and the key topics that discriminate opposing camps. It automatically classifies group positions within a social network, their level of radicalism and their advocacy for violence, based on an innovative methodology that uses groups’ own discourse patterns to position them in relation to each other. It can rapidly detect and display radical and counter-radical hot spots, overcoming language barriers and connecting the dots to visualize networks, narratives, and activities.
By assessing the relative influence and expressed beliefs of diverse groups over time and in critical locations, LookingGlass represents an advanced capability for providing real-time contextual information about the ideological drivers of violent and counterviolent extremist movements online.
Pilot and implications for the future of CVE There are significant potential applications for LookingGlass in CVE programming worldwide. It offers the ability to validate and triangulate multiple sources of data to arrive at a more comprehensive picture of the reach and influence of competing narratives without trying to measure actual extremist activity. It also allows us to mitigate the observer effect, common in perception surveying, because expressed perceptions are passively collected. Though data representativeness will be skewed toward countries and demographics with greater internet and social media uptake, LookingGlass puts the young, tech-savvy populations that are often at greatest risk of extremist recruitment directly in our reach. LookingGlass is being tested in Libya to better understand how extremist narratives and countermessaging efforts affect local perceptions and
popular support of the Government of National Accord versus violent extremist organizations. The lessons learned from the pilot stand to inform the next generation of CVE programs, which, through the astute application of data science, could offer sophisticated new insights into the drivers and solutions to violent extremism â€” and dramatically increase CVE program effectiveness. Story by Michele Piercey, Chemonics; Carolyn Forbes, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict; and Hasan Davulcu, School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering
New Book Explores Transhumanism and Its Social and Ethical Implications
hould technology empower humans to perfect their own bodies? What is at stake when we imagine a future in which technological advancements overcome the limits of what it means to be human? A recent survey of U.S. adults by the Pew Research Center shows that Americans are more worried than enthusiastic or hopeful about these kinds of innovations. Though it may seem like something pulled straight out of a sci-fi novel, this potential new world of technologically enhanced humans is coming and raises important questions. Should the project of innovation be given access to the very foundations of the human body? What impact would these changes have on people socially, psychologically, and culturally? In their new book of essays, Perfecting Human Futures: Transhuman Visions and Technoligical Imaginations, editors J. Benjamin Hurlbut and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson explore these questions. Hurlbut, an assistant professor in ASU’s School of “What is at stake today is Life Sciences, and Tiroshthe future of the human Samuelson, a professor of history and director of Jewish species, the continuity of studies, are both faculty culture, and the deepest affiliates of the Center for values we hold dear.”* the Study of Religion and Conflict. The volume is a result of their grant housed at the Center: “The Transhumanist Imagination: Innovation, Secularization, and Eschatology.” The book presents a synthesis of prior scholarship on transhumanism as well as new empirical research on the nature of what is quickly growing into a radical movement. “The themes found in transhumanism have penetrated popular culture through videogames, literature, film, performance art, and the horror and science fiction genres.” Says TiroshSamuelson. “It is no longer a marginal phenomenon, but rather a major cultural force that will continue to capture popular imagination as well as receive considerable funding from venture capitalists who see enormous potential for profit in promoting transhumanist futuristic projects.” Along with Hurlbut and Tirosh-Samuelson, the book’s contributors draw from a wide range of
J. Benjamin Hurlbut
academic backgrounds. “This volume makes clear that the complexity of the relationship between religion, science and technology demands an interdisciplinary investigation,” says Tirosh-Samuelson. “The essays create a conversation between theology, philosophy, history, science and technology studies, history and philosophy of science, sociology, and political science, challenging the reader to become conversant with several discourses and move beyond single models.” The first section of the book, “Technological Imaginations,” frames attempts to think about the interplay between humans and technology in the future, and explains how the anticipation of the future reflects the values of the present. In Armin Grunwald’s chapter he assesses futuristic visions and details how even though these visions seem fictitious, they can and will have a real impact on scientific and public discussions. Elaine Graham sketches out the related histories of the terms posthuman and postsecular, and Michael E. Zimmerman looks at transhumanist aspirations to overcome mortality. The essays in “Ethics and Politics of Envisioned Futures,” the second section, interrogate the ethical and political implications that the widespread use of transhumanist technologies might have.
Micha Brumlik’s chapter, as one example, examines how transhumanism is more similar to humanism than previously thought. The third and final section of the book, “The Transhumanist Imagination in Context,” offers case studies that explore the transhumanist imagination in distinct cultural settings such as religious communities’ attitudes toward human enhancement, European science policy, and a university founded by a transhumanist. Overall, the book provides an in-depth look at what transhumanism is and how its development is shaping the need for critical discussions about what a future intertwined with technology will be. Story by Ann Perez, Christopher Jordan, and Matt Correa * quotes from book’s introduction
“The future is, in principle, unknowable. Yet humans have a propensity and perhaps also a deep psychological need to dream about and anticipate the future.”*
Chair of Peace Studies Spends Summers in War-Torn Areas
or most people, the thought of spending your summers in war-torn areas of conflict isn’t too appealing. But for Yasmin Saikia it’s more than an attraction, it’s her job. Three months out of the year, Saikia lives abroad, often in places experiencing war or its aftermath. She does this to educate herself about how humanity can persist despite years of violence, destruction and mayhem. “It enables me to appreciate the resilience of human communities and see the continuity of life under the rubble of violence,” said Saikia, the Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. “I cannot grasp the depth of their pain because often it is unfathomable. But I can express solidarity and empathy; these are human emotions that do not need language for communication.” Saikia, the first holder of the Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, is considered one of the country’s most innovative scholars on peacebuilding. She also knows firsthand the
wreckage of war, having seen and experienced the horrors of war and uprising in Bangladesh as a child there during the early 1970s. “A vivid memory I have of the war of 1971 were the ‘blackouts,’” Saikia said. “All the windows and skylights in our home had to be covered with thick black paper so that light would not reflect from them and make us vulnerable to enemy attack planes.” In addition to the blackouts, Saikia’s family endured food rationing and witnessed ethnic and linguistic violence against immigrant Bengali communities. Saikia said her family was somewhat protected as her parents were professors and lived on a university campus. Her family provided shelter and protection to many Bengali students, which gave Saikia an early insight into the refugee psyche. “I think these early childhood memories made me empathetic to the condition of others, as well as made me realize we can play a positive role in improving human relationships for creating
peaceful conditions in the world,” Saikia said. peacebuilders from many different countries. “They shaped my own higher education and She is currently editing a new book on this same the topics I chose to research. My education and topic. She has also spent some time traveling to research have made me a scholar of history and the globe’s war-torn pockets, having spent her peace.” summers in Malaysia, Bosnia and Croatia, Cyprus After completing a doctorate at the University and Northern Ireland – in successive years. of Wisconsin-Madison, Saikia became the first In the summer of 2015 Saikia was in Turkey South Asian historian at the University of North and Paris studying the January 2015 Charlie Carolina-Chapel Hill. It was there where she Hebdo shooting, where 11 people were killed began studying the effects of violence and war on and 11 others were injured at the satirical weekly women and children. newspaper offices targeted by an Islamic terrorist “The vulnerability of women during war group. Saikia said the shooting exposes a much is more evident because women are not only deeper divide in French society. exposed to physical violence, but they can be “Most of the French Muslims are from sexually attacked, brutalized Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and dehumanized in the countries which were previously “We need education process,”Saikia said. colonized by the French,” Saikia “Women also have the added said. and must expose our responsibility of taking care of “Even to this day, the French students and those young children, who are the treat them like their ‘subjects.’ around us to the most likely victims of war – from Masters and subjects, of course, starvation, psychological trauma cannot be treated equally, and richness of cultures and and loss of home, parents and thus the immigrant Muslims communities, histories guardians.” live on the fringe of the French and traditions that In 2010 Saikia became the communities. Although the first scholar to hold the title French promoted the ideas of surround us. Peace is of Chair in Peace Studies at ‘equality, fraternity and justice’ not a theory; it is a lived ASU, which is what drew her through the 1789 revolution, I practice.” to Arizona. She has originated am afraid they did not use these several new classes in peace ideas in practice.” studies at ASU, including one on Saikia says the tension Gandhi and the politics of nonviolence and other between both segments of French society was peace movements in the Muslim world. palpable, but they will have to work it out if they Saikia’s output since she has been in Tempe is want to live side-by-side because their histories prolific and impactful. In those four years she has are so intertwined. She says what’s happening hosted two international conferences, launched a between the French and Muslim communities film series, written several peer-reviewed articles, is also a lesson that America must eventually and co-edited one book, Women and Peace in the embrace, and it is the first step towards peace. Islamic World: Gender, Agency and Influence, with “For this we need education and must expose Chad Haines, an assistant professor of religious our students and those around us to the richness of studies and global studies at ASU. cultures and communities, histories and traditions The work is believed to be the first scholarly that surround us,” Saikia said. book devoted to Muslim women’s efforts on “Peace is not a theory; it is a lived practice.” peace. Story by Marshall Terrill, ASU Now Her most current project, “People’s Peace,” is a collaboration of workshops, panel discussions and conferences that involves scholars and
Yasmin Saikia, Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies and professor of history, lectures in her HST 302: Peace Studies class in Coor Hall.
Scholars Who Serve
“To be part of government life, when your job is to study politics from a scholarly perspective, I think it does help to provide some important grounding.”
t takes a deployment half a world away for ASU professors to meet. For years John Carlson and Scott Ruston worked just steps from each other, but their paths never crossed. Both men had spent their undergraduate years as Navy ROTC midshipmen before serving on active duty, both had later entered into the U.S. Navy Reserve and both had eventually found their way to professorships at Arizona State University — Carlson as the associate director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and associate professor of religious studies in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, and Ruston as an assistant research professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. But it wasn’t until they were both called to active duty around the same time that they actually met — in Djibouti, Africa. “It was very coincidental,” Carlson said. “We had been walking [ASU’s Tempe] campus and had offices a hundred yards apart from each other and had never met each other before that. … It really wasn’t until I arrived in Djibouti and people said, ‘Wait a minute, there’s another scholar here with a Ph.D. who’s from Arizona State. Now there’s two of you,’ that we started realizing this is quite unique.” During his deployment in Djibouti, Ruston was suddenly reassigned to a project in Mogadishu, Somalia, roughly 1,100 miles southeast of Djibouti and the target of frequent terrorist attacks by the militant group Al Shabaab. The heightened sense of danger meant heightened security measures. So instead of traveling by a regular car or bus, when Ruston and his men were on the move they traveled wellprotected. “If we were leaving the facility where our office was in Mogadishu, we were rolling in an armored personnel carrier. And I remember as I boarded this armed personnel carrier thinking to myself, ‘Boy, it’s a good thing I paid attention to all this training that I didn’t expect to use!’” Ruston said. “You just never know what’s going to happen.” Ruston’s deployment in Djibouti lasted from January 2014 to January 2015, and Carlson’s lasted from September 2014 to June 2015 — so they had an overlap period of about four months during 14
which they ended up working closely on a couple of projects. Ruston worked as the deputy director for theater security cooperation, which meant he was responsible for running communication efforts with partner nations in the East Africa region, supporting them in their efforts to combat Al Shabaab and carry out other stabilizing efforts that the African troops were engaged in. Carlson worked as a liaison officer for the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, where he was responsible for ensuring and maintaining a positive relationship between the U.S. ambassador to Djibouti and the commanding general of the Djibouti military forces, as well as making sure their common goals were pursued. One of the projects Ruston and Carlson had the chance to work on together was a conference that brought all the U.S. ambassadors throughout the East Africa region together at their base,
John Carlson, associate director of the Center, and associate professor of religious studies, leads the Q&A session at Anand Gopal’s lecture.
Camp Lemonnier, for a strategic discussion. “You would think it happens all the time,” Ruston said. “It never happens. It’s kind of a big deal.” Ruston was lead planner for the conference, navigating all the red tape, bureaucracy and protocol involved. Carlson’s position in the embassy enabled him to provide vital support. For his part, he was in charge of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Camp Lemonnier. This was the highestranking U.S. official ever to visit the camp — or Djibouti for that matter. “That conference was pretty significant because getting that level of representation from the U.S. embassies … to participate from almost every country in the East African region was pretty remarkable,” Ruston said. On that high note, his deployment ended, the very next day after the conference.
After returning Carlson and Ruston were more enthused than ever to put their experiences to work. “To be part of government life, when your job is to study politics from a scholarly perspective, I think it does help to provide some important grounding,” Carlson said. As well, they both noted, it’s one thing to study problems of religious extremism and violence; it’s another thing to gain close-up appreciation of the dangers these threats pose and the challenges of confronting them.
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence
Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions is a lectures series generously supported by John Whiteman. The series brings nationally and internationally recognized experts to campus to address the religious dynamics of conflict and peace.
“We mustn’t harden our hearts to our own misdeeds, and to the deaths and harm that we’ve caused.”
s religion truly the root cause of war, as many claim? Or does secular nationalism share the blame? How does one disentangle the causes of conflict in an increasingly intertwined and globalized reality? Renowned scholar Karen Armstrong set out to answer these questions in her lecture, part of the Center’s Alternative Visions series, this past year. Armstrong’s work examines the differences and profound similarities between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and their impact on world events. A former Catholic nun who left the convent to study literature, Armstrong is an authority on world faiths, religious fundamentalism, and monotheism. “As one of the most well-known and popular writers on religion in the last 25 years, her books have greatly expanded the public’s knowledge about religious history and our understanding of religion in the modern world,” said John Carlson, the Center’s acting director. Armstrong began her lecture by addressing the popular assumption that religion is the root cause of all wars throughout history, an assumption
she finds “odd” because war never has just one cause: ideology often factors in, but so do politics, territorial disputes, competition for resources, and other sociocultural factors. “If we persist on dumping everything on religion in our current extremely dangerous predicament, we’re ignoring certain factors that need to be understood to get a whole and realistic and rational view of our current situation,” she added. Next, Armstrong warned against a common conclusion of the “religion causes all wars” narrative—that secularism itself will bring about good governance and world peace. “We have to remember that secularism has its own violent history,” she said, using Reza Pahlavi’s brutal “modernization” techniques in Iran, Nasser’s mass jailing of Muslim Brotherhood members in 1950s Egypt, and both World Wars as examples. In many cases, Armstrong cautioned, nationalism threatens to replace religion as a source of “sacred identity,” and therefore violence. “In some ways, if you think of the sacred as something for which you’re prepared to die because it is so unnegotiable, then in some senses, the nation really has replaced God,” she said. Finally, Armstrong concluded that the West cannot simply blame religion for creating terrorism in the Middle East, pointing to increasing civilian casualty numbers in modern warfare unexplainable by religion alone. Until Western nations recognize that no one framework is sufficient to describe the sources of violence, they will continue to mischaracterize modern conflicts, and their own role in these conflicts. “If we don’t acknowledge [civilian casualties], or just push this out of mind, we cannot escape the accusation that the West preserves a cold, proud arrogance in the face of the suffering of other parts of the world, nor can we escape the charge that we see some lives as more valuable than others,” Armstrong said. “We mustn’t harden our hearts to our own misdeeds, and to the deaths and harm that we’ve caused.”
Story by Tye Rabens
Karen Armstrong, best-selling author of A History of God and other books, lectures to a full house at the Evelyn Smith Music Theater on ASU’s Tempe Campus.
What Citizens Owe Strangers: Human Rights, Migrants and Refugees
ow should we understand the European refugee crisis in relation to domestic migration issues in the United States? And what duties do citizens owe to migrants and refugees, if any? Public intellectual and former Canadian politician Michael Ignatieff raised these questions in an insightful lecture this past year as part of the Center’s Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions lecture series. Ignatieff’s talk connected two issues of particular interest to Americans today—the refugee crisis abroad in Europe, and domestic migration issues in the United States. He offered three options for answering the pressing and difficult question of how citizens should treat migrants and refugees. The first, popular in mainstream American politics, is that “we owe them nothing,” Ignatieff said. He dismissed this argument outright, emphasizing the desperate and violent conditions from which many migrants and refugees flee. other human beings to prevent the desperate Ignatieff added that while these desperate conditions refugees and migrants often flee from. conditions arise from many complicated factors “Don’t we have some duty?” he asked. with no one culprit, “it’s also naive to deny the “Don’t we have some obligation to prevent that possibility that some of the policies of the United happening before they come ashore looking like States have driven the pressure of migration that?” flows.” Ignatieff concluded that A second argument is that although decisions about duties to our fellow citizens “Strangers who flee migrants and refugees are must come first but we have ultimately political decisions, duties toward these oftenterror, violence, history has shown that after suffering “strangers” as well, starvation, and war migrants and refugees begin often stemming from religious have a right to refuge, to integrate and contribute, beliefs and obligations. public opinion often shifts from This kind of religious and we have a duty to opposition to support. response begins to answer for provide it.” He urged the American Western responsibility, Ignatieff public to think more deeply elaborated, but it is limited, about these issues and become less fearful of selective, and too personal for policy. migrants and refugees. “Without pity and compassion, you can’t have “We will regret our fearsomeness,” Ignatieff any darn policy about refugees or migrants at all, but don’t assume that pity and compassion will get said. “We will regret our suspicion.” you everywhere you need to go,” he said. Story by Tye Rabens Supporters of Ignatieff’s third option would advocate that “strangers who flee terror, violence, starvation, and war have a right to refuge, and we have a duty to provide it.” Ignatieff supported this third option, questioning whether we have an obligation to 17
Michael Ignatieff is the Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of 17 books, including his most recent, Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics.
Religious Violence in the Age of Enlightenment
The Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Speaker Series on Religion and Conflict
Benjamin Kaplan, history professor at University College London, is the author of Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe.
id the dawn of Europe’s Enlightenment truly bring an end to religious violence on the continent? If not, what lessons can be learned for religious conflict in the modern era? Benjamin Kaplan, history professor at University College London, and a Guggenheim and Woodrow Wilson fellow, discussed these fascinating questions during his lecture as the 2015 Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Speaker on Religion and Conflict.
Protestant refugees from the Netherlands demanded representation in local government and were refused. Religion became tangled with a pitched battle for political power, and “the results were explosive, Kaplan said, with three Protestant riots storming Aachen City Hall in 30 years. Kaplan characterized the second phase, from the 1620s to the 1670s, as “a phase of official persecution.” After regaining power in Aachen, Catholic authorities steadily reduced the Protestant population “to the status of dissenters.” “This treatment, political and economic, decimated the city’s Protestant population,” said Kaplan. After the Dutch established a Calvinist church in the Aachen village of Vaals, Protestants traveling to services there were routinely harassed by authorities, but the religious conflict remained official rather than civilian in nature. The third phase of religious conflict in early modern Europe, Kaplan argues, began in the 1730s when official persecution was “replaced by popular violence.” After a brief period of tense peace, sporadic acts of violence erupted throughout Aachen in the mid-18th century, with Catholic peasants themselves attacking Protestant homes. This phase, strangely, continued well into the Enlightenment era, and according to Kaplan, may Kaplan’s research looks for even have been exacerbated by answers to today’s problems in early attempts to bring tolerant the religious history of early Enlightenment values to the “This work, focusing modern Europe, challenging restive region. on religious riots and the common historical narrative Studying why religious massacres, has explained that Europe embraced toleration violence continued in Europe and reason during and following after the Enlightenment not an awful lot about the the Enlightenment of the 18th only enriches our understanding grounds on which its century. of that place and time, Kaplan perpetrators felt that Kaplan framed his lecture concluded, but may offer useful through a case study of religious analogies for understanding their actions were violence in and around Aachen, present-day conflicts. legitimate.” a semi-sovereign German “This work, focusing on city within the former Holy religious riots and massacres, Roman Empire. He argued that conflict between has explained an awful lot about the triggers that Protestants and Catholics in Aachen illustrate led to outbreaks of popular religious violence three distinct phases of religious conflict seen and the beliefs that informed it, the patterns throughout much of early modern Europe. it followed, and importantly, the grounds on The first phase, from the late 16th to early which its perpetrators felt that their actions were 17th century, was typified by what Kaplan calls legitimate,” Kaplan said. “The Constitutional Contest.”In Aachen, this “Constitutional Contest” manifested when 18
Afghanistan, Syria, and ISIS
ow should the United States government reassess its strategy in the Middle East, almost 15 years after the Global War on Terror began? According to acclaimed journalist and writer Anand Gopal, policymakers must begin their search for solutions in one of America’s most confusing and troublesome anti-terror efforts: the war in Afghanistan. This past year, as part of the Conversations at the Center lecture series, Gopal discussed the time he spent researching and reporting in Afghanistan, as well as his current work on the Middle East, especially the Syrian conflict. Gopal brings firsthand experience to the topic, having served as Afghanistan correspondent for both The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor. In his recent book, No Good Men Among the Living, Anand Gopal details the stories of three Afghans caught in the crossfire of US military intervention. By highlighting American triumphs and pitfalls in the early stages of the war, the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist book reveals the human toll exacted upon the Afghan population as well as the role the US itself played in the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Gopal focused his discussion on “the local narrative in Afghanistan” to demonstrate “how a better understanding of others’ narratives about the war on terror can help everyone understand the conflict better.” Gopal told this “local narrative” through the stories of two people he met while reporting in Afghanistan: A baker named Sharafuddin, and a former midlevel Taliban commander named Mullah Ahmad Shah. Both were first arrested by Afghan militiamen in 2002 and tortured with tacit approval from American troops until their families paid off the militiamen, creating a cycle of arrest, torture, and bribery in each case. These two stories, Gopal asserted, typify local narratives about what happened in Afghanistan following U.S. occupation, creating a perception among many Afghans that the Americans had simply replaced one abusive power group with another. While admitting that religious fundamentalism also played a role, he claimed dissatisfied Afghans became convinced that Americans “hate our
way of life,” which is “how a group as retrograde and unpopular as the Taliban could make a resurgence, and make a resurgence with the backing of local communities.” Gopal also addressed the genesis of ISIS in his lecture and an extended Q&A session afterward. In short, local perceptions paint a picture of Iraq in 2009 tragically reminiscent of Afghanistan in 2002: random detentions, pointless tortures, and American advisors turning a blind eye. Popular opinion began to swing against the government, Gopal said, and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which now called itself ISIS, was ready to capitalize on the resentment. “The real tragedy is that Iraqis and Syrians don’t want to live under ISIS control, but they don’t see a future under Iraqi government control,” he explained. “Do you accept ISIS, and you know the rules, or do you gamble and support the Iraqi government?” Finally, Gopal emphasized the main takeaway from his reporting in the Middle East: America must take local narratives, memories, and history seriously in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past: “If we don’t do those things, then unfortunately these wars and this brutality are going to continue.”
“A better understanding of others’ narratives about the war on terror can help everyone understand the conflict better.”
Harvey Cox, Renowned Theologian, in Residence at the Center, Lectures on “The Future of Faith”
The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict hosted Harvey Cox for a three-week residency. Cox gave a major public lecture on “The Future of Faith”, and he also worked with undergraduate classes, met with faculty and graduate students, and served as the first “Theologian in Residence” at the Beatitudes Campus.
Harvey Cox is a world-renowned authority on the interaction of religion, culture and politics. He has written many books, including The Secular City, which was an international bestseller and is widely regarded as one of the most influential books of Protestant theology of the last 50 years.
Future of Faith How are religious practices adapting to fit the times, and what do these changes mean for the future of religion in a global society? Theologian, scholar, and leading voice of American liberal Christianity Harvey Cox addressed these questions in a special public lecture held in 2016. Cox, an ordained minister and professor at Harvard Divinity School, studies issues of JewishChristian relations, theological developments in world Christianity, urbanization, and current spiritual movements in the global setting. In his lecture Cox identified five important changes undergone by religious traditions in the contemporary era. The first, most basic and underlying change to religious traditions worldwide is that “from doctrinal to experiential, from the ideas to the experiences,” Cox explained, alluding to growing American interest in meditation and yoga as part of a larger, worldwide and widespread trend. The second change is “the movement from a regional religion to a global religion.” Historically, religions were roughly confined to regions— Christianity in West Europe and the Americas, Islam in the Middle East, and so on. However, “in the last century or two...everybody is he
everywhere,” he said. Cox envisioned a third trend nudging contemporary religion “from hierarchy to community.” As people worldwide grow increasingly distrustful of hierarchical structures, he elaborated, many are adopting a spiritual outlook of “discovering it yourself, finding it yourself, finding it with other people.” Next, Cox predicted a fourth, slower-moving and more difficult trend “from patriarchy to equality,” marked by an increase in female leadership positions and decision making. Finally, Cox marked the retrenchment of fundamentalism across traditions as a “counter-movement” among religious trends. Modern-day fundamentalists “are a little suspicious” of these changes, he continued: “They’re not comfortable with globalism. They certainly don’t like the dismantling of hierarchy.” Cox encouraged the audience to see this period of religious change as an opportunity to engage with the process of defining the future of faith in a globalized society. “There will be a future of faith, one way or another,” Cox concluded. “It may be good news, it may be bad news, it’ll probably be both. I invite you to jump into it, understand it, [and] participate in it.” Story by Tye Rabens and Erin Schulte
During Dr. Cox’s residency he also had an opportunity for a sit-down interview with John Carlson, associate director of the Center. Here is an excerpt from that interview, edited for clarity and length. John Carlson: What does spirituality look like in a post-secular age? Harvey Cox: I would say in a word, it’s decentralized. Spirituality is dispersed throughout lots of parts of the culture. Spirituality can be good spirituality or it can be destructive. I’m afraid that anybody who has studied religion and spirituality for as long as I have knows that there’s both sides to this, and you have to take that into consideration. If you’re looking to the whole question of religion and conflict or violence, there are instances in which religion can help quell violence, can help people understand how to work things out, but there’s some instances in which it’s either used by violent causes or actually can at times spark them. We have a very mixed picture here. Carlson: You have had a very long and distinguished career. Looking back now, what do you view as your greatest accomplishment? Cox: This is going to surprise you. I was just talking to one of your faculty members here, Keith Miller, who has a book on Martin Luther King. He was very surprised when I told him that when I was a novice campus minister at Oberlin College in Ohio, I invited Martin Luther King, who was hardly known at the time. His Montgomery bus boycott was going on. I invited him and he came. At the school at the time was a student named James Lawson who had just come back from India. He was a Methodist turned missionary. He was studying Gandhian techniques. I introduced King to Lawson, and when somebody says, “What’s the thing you accomplished most?”, I think not any of my books, not any of my teaching. To bring those two people together, because Lawson became the principle teacher for hundreds, maybe thousands of young people in non-violence, and that made a big difference in American history.
Exploring the Writings of Malcolm X as an Undergraduate Research Fellow
ost pre-dental undergrads don’t conduct research on Malcolm X. But most predental undergrads aren’t Sarah Syed. Each year, about 10 Arizona State University students are chosen for the Center’s undergraduate fellows program, where they work directly with a faculty member on research projects involving religion, conflict and peacemaking. The students, who receive a scholarship of $1,000 and take a special class with the center’s director, are from different fields of study and bring a variety of perspectives to the research projects. Syed, a health science major in the College of Health Solutions, was intrigued by the topics in the 2015-16 program. “I have had a deep interest in Malcolm X and his legacy for a very long time,” said Syed. “And so, when I saw that there was a professor who was working on researching more about Malcolm X, I was like, ‘I definitely want to meet the professor.’” Syed was paired with English professor Keith Miller, whose research focuses on the rhetoric and songs of the civil rights movement. Miller—who has written two books about Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches and sermons—is working on a book about “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” and the pair’s research focused on that. Syed called it one of the best opportunities of her time at ASU. Miller and Syed sat down with ASU Now for a dialogue about their experience and what they discovered about this figure from America’s history. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. Q: What was the process like for you both working on this project together? Did you go look through archives together? Miller: Well, she read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and the big Pulitzer Prize autobiography that came out in 2011. And then she read all of these [points to stack of papers on desk], so then we talked about all of that. Q: So a lot of discussion? Syed: Yeah. I really enjoyed the reading of the speeches. I almost didn’t want to give them back! [laughter] They were so much fun to see. Some of them are typewritten, but some of them are Malcolm X’s own notes that he has written and it’s just amazing to see his handwriting, you know, somebody who was so incredible and so inspiring. To me, that was really valuable. That was one of the best opportunities I’ve had at
school. Q: Professor Miller, what did you learn from working with Sarah on this project? Miller: Well, Sarah helped me because I’ve never really known that many Muslims very well. Sarah is a Sunni Muslim and she kind of gave me more of a feeling for it than I had before. And she also gave me a tour of the mosque. Syed: I’m the president of the Muslim Students Association here at ASU, so I do tours all the time. It’s the closest mosque to ASU and we can all walk there between classes. Miller: And I’ve been at ASU a long time and I’d never been inside a mosque. So it was interesting to me to get to see it. Q: Sarah, what was something you gained from this experience working with professor Miller? Syed: Being a science student, I don’t spend a lot of time with humanities professors, so I just really enjoyed hearing his analysis of both the autobiography and his understanding of the speeches. Malcolm X, in my opinion, sounds a lot more like a Christian minister than any imam I’ve ever heard. Miller: That was an interesting comment that she made to me. He quotes the Bible a lot and he doesn’t quote the Quran that much. It’s interesting. Syed: To see [Malcolm X’ s] growth and his changing of his views was also very interesting to me. I wanted to see, you know, what made him interested in Islam in the first place. Because that’s why I find Malcolm X interesting; I feel that I owe a debt of gratitude to him for establishing himself as an American Muslim in this country. And so that’s why I feel an attachment to Malcolm X, and I definitely want to carry on his legacy of being a proud American Muslim who can stand up against injustice and still be so rooted in the country. Story by Emma Greguska, ASU Now, for the full interview, see: https://asunow.asu.edu/20160531discoveries-religion-conflict-undergrad-research-malcolm-x
ASU professor Keith Miller and pre-dental student Sarah Syed, with a copy of the book they spent months researching and discussing. photo credit: Ben Moffat, ASU Now
Making a Difference: Advancing the Center Through Individual Philanthropy
Friends of the Center 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 help expand student fellowship programs; bring innovative thinkers, 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 2015-16 academic year. Lifetime Friends Ann Hardt Stan and Tochia Levine Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Richard and Elaine Morrison Doug and Becky Pruitt John Roberts John Whiteman Platinum (up to $25,000) Bijan and Fariba Ansari Thomas and Deborah Davidson Penny Davis Perry and Margaret Gooch Jerry Hirsch Tom and Ruth Ann Hornaday Sally Lehmann Gold (up to $2,500) Anonymous (1) Kevin and Yolanda McAuliffe Maroon (up to $1,000) Susan and Bill Ahearn Linda Brock and Jeffrey Heimer Linell Cady Mary Anna Friederich Ann M. and Brian Jordan David Lincoln Laura and Herb Roskind Thomas and Vicky Taradash Susan Weidner Jeff and Janelle Wright Silver (up to $250) Anonymous (2) Greg Altschuh and J. Lipman Patricia Bauer LoAnn and Edwin Bell Pauline G. Blair John Carlson Grace and William Chaffee Ed Chulew Matt Correa Robert Cowie Robert and Denise DiCenso Seija Farber Donald Fausel Robert and Rosemarie Fitzsimmons Carolyn Forbes
Investing in the Center has a positive impact on students, faculty, and the community.
Mike Franklin Gwyn Goebel Len Gordon Prem and Jiwan Goyal Gisela Grant Terrence Gregg Jennifer and Gary Grossman Rebecca Grubaugh Vernon Higginbotham Sol Jaffe Roger Johnson Dale Kalika and Robert McPhee Joan and Walt Koppenbrink Matt Korbeck and Karen McNally Sharon K. Kurtz Sandy Lambert Thomas and Barbara Leard Ronald D. MacDonald Dorothy and Jerry McAden Roy P. and Mary S. Miller Robert and Jackie Mings Jeanne R. Miyasaka Katherine Morosoff Steven L. Neuberg Catherine O’Donnell Michael O’Sullivan Steve and Linda Pogson William C. Rhodes Aleda Richter-West Roger S. Robinson Patrick and Linda Ryan Warren and Martha Salinger Cayetano Santiago Ronald F. Sassano Cliff and Patricia Schutjer Steve and Mary Serlin Mr and Mrs. Vikram Shah Ron Spillers Milt Stamatis Marge Thornton Carole Weiss Sandra Whitley Gwen Williams
To make a donation online, go to asufoundation.org/ religionandconflict. To make a donation by mail, send a check, payable to the ASU Foundation/CSRC to: Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict Arizona State University PO Box 870802 Tempe, AZ 85287-0802 To make a major gift, contact Gwyn Goebel, Major Gifts Officer, at (480) 965-9882 or Gwyn.Goebel@asu.edu. All funds will be deposited with the ASU Foundation for a New American University, a separate non-profit organization that exists to support ASU. Your gift may be considered a charitable contribution. Please consult with your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of charitable contributions.
Gifts made in honor of: Neal Lester
unding from the Friends of the Center supports the Centerâ€™s undergraduate and graduate student programs, including the undergraduate fellows program and the Friends of the Center research awards. The research awards are designed to deepen a studentâ€™s practical knowledge and understanding about religion, conflict, and/or peacebuilding. Funded activities range from participation in peacebuilding programs to research projects, including travel, summer support, or archival research. Look at this map to see the places students have traveled in just the last few years.
Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict
Greece Turkey Tunisia
Washington D.C. North Carolina
Friends of the Center Student Research Awards
Made possible by annual gifts to the Friends of the Center, this program provides 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 2016.
Psychology and Barrett, the Honors College
Journalism, Political Science, and Barrett, the Honors College
Project Advisor: Daniel Rothenberg, Professor of Practice, School of Politics and Global Studies
Project Advisor: Delia S. Saenz, Associate Professor, Psychology
Doctoral Student in Journalism and Mass Communication
Project Advisor: Stephanie deLusé, Principal Honors Faculty Fellow, Barrett, the Honors College “Peacebuilding through Cultural Exchange and Service in Tajikistan” Catie Carson will spend six weeks this summer interning in Tajikistan with the support of the Friends of the Center Award. She will participate in the America’s Unofficial Ambassadors summer program, volunteering at an Autism center while making connections with local individuals and gaining insight into the culture, which she will share through blogs and community presentations upon her return. This internship will give her the opportunity to combine her interests in religious tolerance, mental health, and human rights.
Project Advisor: Bill Silcock, Associate Professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication “Journalism, Freedom of Speech, and Violence in Pakistani Media” Connor Murphy will be conducting research for his honors thesis on religion and freedom of the press in Pakistan though an internship in Washington, D.C. and research in Pakistan. He will interview media and communications students, professors and professionals. He aims to explore the freedom of press in Pakistan and the struggle of Pakistani journalists to do their jobs in difficult circumstances.
“Turkey’s Refugee Crisis” Ryan Schneidewind will travel to Turkey to explore some of the religious dimensions of Turkey’s refugee crisis. Ryan will look at how the influx of Christian and Muslim refugees has affected Turkey, as well as how the Turkish religious culture has influenced the refugees. He will conduct interviews that illustrate the perspectives of Shi’a, Sunni, and Christian refugees in order to collect a diverse number of personal stories related to the experiences of Syrian refugees who are resettling and integrating into new cultures.
“Religion and Domestic Violence in Suva, Fiji” Jennifer Swicegood will attend a Humans Rights Frameworks Training on Domestic Violence, offered by the Women’s Crisis Center in Suva, Fiji. There she will learn how this center approaches religion and violence, and she will have an opportunity to interact with women seeking help.
Dissertation Advisor: Dennis Russell, Associate Professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication “Tunisia and the Arab Spring: Religion and the Role of Social Media” Michael Bluhm traveled to Tunisia to explore the social media and journalistic roots of the Arab Spring revolution. He interviewed some of the foremost activists in the early Tunisian revolution, including Ali Bouazizi, the Tunisian man who famously gave the first interview to Al Jazeera after his cousin, Sidi bou Zid, immolated himself in protest. In doing so, he delved into how activists used the media to attempt to inspire Tunisians to mobilize for regime change.
Doctoral Student in Religious Studies
Masters Student in Women and Gender Studies
Doctoral Student in Religious Studies
Doctoral Student in Justice Studies
Doctoral Student in Religious Studies
Dissertation Advisor: Shahla Talebi, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies
Thesis Advisor: Alesha Durfee, Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies, School of Social Transformation
Dissertation Advisor: Linell Cady, Director, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict; Professor, Religious Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies
Dissertation Advisor: Abdullahi Gallab, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies, School of Social Transformation; Associate Professor, Religious Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies
Dissertation Advisor: Shahla Talebi, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies
“Who Gets to Heal: Mapping Religionization and Propertization in Yoga
Mahshid Zandi will research the interconnectedness of religion and politics in memorialization of the IranIraq War and its symbolic, linguistic, metaphoric and sensual manifestation in Tehran’s Holy Defense Museum. Through this exploration she hopes to reveal a deeper understanding of the inherent intertwining of religion and politics.
“Performing Authoritative Ambiguity: Contemporary Indonesian Islamic Actualities” James Edmonds will travel to Indonesia to do ethnographic fieldwork on the Islamic performer Habib Syech whose popularity and message is significant for understanding counter extremist movements. He will spend three months travelling with Syech and attending his events, conducting interviews, and gathering data about the everyday spaces of Muslim life and how they might shed light on shifts in the global Islamic world.
“Constructions of Kinship and Female Empowerment: Orthodox Christianity and Domestic Violence in Greece” Viviane Linos will spend three months in Greece exploring the relationship between Greek married women and violent partners and how religion can work as a site of resistance. She will examine both the theological structures of the Greek Orthodox faith as well as work with victims of domestic violence themselves in order to paint a picture of the intersection of religion and violence in Greece.
“Emerging in the South: The Emerging Church Movement within the Bible Belt Region” Terry Shoemaker is investigating the earliest stages of a progressive Christian development known as the Emerging Church movement in the Bible Belt region. He will be using the Friends of the Center funding to attend an Emerging Church religious festival in the mountains of North Carolina called the Wild Goose Festival. Initiating his dissertation research, this project seeks to understand how this global Christian movement specifically negotiates the American South.
Roopa Singh will travel to Washington D.C. to conduct research at the Smithsonian that seeks to rediscover the long histories of HinduMuslim cooperation and peace through yoga. Yoga’s long-held role as a site for expression and communication makes it a powerful space for extremists to appropriate. While yoga has recently been utilized around South and Southeast Asia in order to fan the flames of religious conflict, Singh hopes to delve deeper into the history of yoga as a tool for reconciliation and the end of conflict in the region.
“Tehran’s Holy Defense Museum: Mediating Religion, Politics, and Collective Memory”
Student Explores Religious Conflict and Democracy Through Fellows Program and Research Awards
hile traveling through Romania last summer, Ashley Brennan passed Dracula’s castle and was struck by the stories told about the country’s ancient architecture: “It felt like we were driving through this combination of historical truths and historical legends.” Brennan, a graduating Psychology senior at ASU, brought this same curiosity and insight to her work as one of the Center’s Undergraduate Fellows this past year.
“Meeting all these people in these fields reaffirmed that this is a community I want to stay a part of, and these are people I intend to continue learning with, learning from, and hopefully, working with in the future.”
Each year, students selected for the competitive Undergraduate Fellows Program have an opportunity to receive course credit, a scholarship of $1,000, and meet with visiting scholars. Students accepted into the program also work directly with an ASU faculty member on current research projects involving religion, conflict, and peace. Brennan’s research project, titled “Mapping Religious Conflict in Eurasia, 1991-2015,” was conducted under the guidance of Eugene Clay, associate professor of religious studies and a faculty affiliate with the Center since its beginnings in 2003. Clay said that Brennan analyzed databases, historical census materials, and current records from the Russian Ministry of Justice in an effort to map ethno-religious communities in Russia. The project looked at the locations and changes of these various religious communities over time to identify and describe “important demographic shifts,” which Clay said he hopes will culminate in an interactive GIS interface of the role of religion in complex, multicultural societies. 26
“The Center’s fellows program allows professors to work with some of the best and brightest students at ASU,” Clay said. “The students have an opportunity to contribute to cutting-edge research that is particularly relevant to finding solutions for our conflict-ridden world.” Brennan said her work with Clay also informed her research in Romania by improving her understanding of how history, ethnicity, and religion affect other issues. The research, funded in part by a Friends of the Center Undergraduate Research Award, analyzed youth participatory budgeting, a “relatively newer democratic innovation” in which autonomous spaces are created for young people “to gather and to practice these deliberation and decision-making skills about issues that are really crucial to them, and to have a certain budget allocated for them,” Brennan said. She focused on the Transylvanian city of Cluj-Napoca, looking at how participation in this process affected democratic empowerment by conducting 45 semi-structured interviews of participants and a focus group with five facilitators. Another example of Brennan’s engaged research is her involvement in the “We the People” Conference last Fall during her research assistantship. Brennan said she leveraged many of her connections both from her Romania research and the Center fellows program to recruit volunteers and help coordinate the event. The “We The People” Conference, held at ASU, brought together about 250 experts from around the world, all working in participatory democracy, civic engagement, and citizenship education, in an effort to unify “three disciplines that sometimes are isolated, when they really need to be working together,” Brennan said. She gave two presentations, including her thesis work from Romania, and also chaired a panel at the conference. “Meeting all these people in these fields reaffirmed that this is a community I want to stay a part of, and these are people I intend to continue learning with, learning from, and hopefully, working with in the future,” she added. Following graduation, Brennan hopes to land a Fulbright scholarship further studying youth participatory budgeting in Argentina. In the future, she is considering a Ph.D. in political psychology. Story by Tye Rabens
Undergraduate Research Fellows, 2015-16
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 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.
Zana Alattar Major: Biochemistry, Justice Studies Faculty Mentors: Gaymon Bennett and Jason Bruner, Assistant Professors of Religious Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies Project: “Making Religion Visible in Global Health”
Ashley Brennan Major: Psychology Faculty Mentor: Eugene Clay, Project: “Mapping Religious Conflict in Eurasia, 1991-2015”
Major: Finance Faculty Mentor: David S. Sirocky, Assistant Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies Project: “After Secession: Matrioshka Nationalism in New States”
Major: Global Studies, Anthropology Faculty Mentor: Abdullahi Gallab, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies, School of Social Transformation, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Project: “Multiple Diasporas: Castes of Mind”
Major: Political Science, Philosophy Faculty Mentor: Lenka Bustikova, Professor of Political Science, School of Politics and Global Studies Project: “Paramilitary Groups in Ukraine and Far Right Mobilization”
Major: Justice Studies Faculty Mentor: Yasmin Saikia, Professor of History, Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies Project: “People’s Peace”
Major: Journalism, Political Science Faculty Mentor: Chad Haines, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies Project: “Beyond Development: Urbanism, Pluralism, and the Participatory Journalism in Pakistan”
Major: Biochemistry Faculty Mentor: Abdullahi Gallab, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies, School of Social Transformation, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Project: “Religion and the Separation of Sudan into Two Countries”
Major: Public Service and Public Policy Faculty Mentor: Sujey Vega, Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies, School of Social Transformation Project: “Enchanted Faith: Latino Religiosity, Gender Constructions, and Social Networks in the Church”
Major: Political Science Faculty Mentor: Daniel Rothenberg, Professor of Practice, School of Politics and Global Studies Project: “Naming Evil: The Ethics, Meaning and Usefulness of Genocide Claims”
Major: Health Sciences Faculty Mentor: Keith Miller, Associate Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Project: “Who Wrote the Autobiography of Malcolm X?”
Major: Economics, Political Science Faculty Mentor: Souad T. Ali, Associate Professor of Arabic Literature and Middle East/Islamic Studies, School of International Letters and Cultures Project: “Woman and Gender Issues in the Muslim Middle East”
Undergraduate Certificate in Religion and Conflict
his program allows students from any major to gain a broad multidisciplinary understanding of the dynamics of religion, conflict, and peace. Established with support from the Ford Foundation, faculty from over ten fields offer courses on such topics as “Communication, Conflict, and Peace Building,” “Total War and the Crisis of Modernity,” “National Security and International Terrorism,” “Religion, War, and Peace,” and “Introduction to Peace Studies.” The program has graduated over 100 students since its launch in 2009, including 10 students who earned certificates in 2015-16: Jennifer Bauer-Leffler Sociology
Saadh Monawar Justice Studies
Logan K. Rhind Political Science
John Harkness History
Margarete Nasir East Asian Studies
Mariha Syed Biochemistry
Trevor Johnson Philosophy
Christopher Pardi Public Service and Public Policy
Sophia E. Wahlgren Political Science
Melissa Jordan Religious Studies
About the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict
eligion 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 religious dynamics of peace and conflict with the aim of advancing knowledge, seeking solutions and informing policy. By serving as a research hub that fosters exchange and collaboration—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.
Center for the Sudy of Religion and Conflict Staff Linell Cady Director John Carlson Associate Director Yasmin Saikia Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies Carolyn Forbes Assistant Director Laurie Perko Administrative Coordinator Matt Correa Assistant Research Administrator Terry Williams Communications and Events Coordinator Pawan Rehill Coordinator International Programs Gwyn Goebel Major Gifts Officer (CLAS) Faculty Advisory Committee Abdullahi Gallab African and African American Studies Joel Gereboff Religious Studies Steven Neuberg Psychology Daniel Rothenberg Human Rights and Security Studies George Thomas Global Studies Hava Tirosh-Samuelson Jewish Studies (Director) Carolyn Warner Political Science Mark Woodward Religious Studies Student Interns and Graduate Assistants Brad DeBiase Christopher Jordan Crystine Miller Erin Schulte
Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict PO Box 870802 | Tempe, AZ 85287-0802 480.965.7187 | 480.965.9611 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org | csrc.asu.edu
2015-16 Annual Report of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict