Professors Asma Barlas and Tom Shevory received Summer Research Grants.
Asma Barlas received a grant to work on her book project, "Engaging Difference: Theology, History, and Christian-Muslim Encounters." Following is a synopsis of her proposal:
Events since 9/11 seem to have revived the apocryphal view that “Islam and the West” cannot coexist peacefully and are fated to clash with one another. This idea enjoys currency not only among a fringe of Muslim extremists who are waging a so-called jihad against the West, but also among secular Westerners. As both 9/11 and the U.S. wars against Afghanistan and Iraq show, this shared belief—though held by a minority--threatens global peace and security, endangering all of us.
I hope to engage this process of mutual Othering which has a long history and which arises, I believe, in an epistemological and theological failure to make sense of religious diversity. In addition to offering a critique of how early Christians and Muslims theorized difference, I also want to revive and outline a Muslim theology of tolerance that is in line with the Qur’an’s teaching that diversity exists by divine will and allows us all to “know one another.” Such a theology can go a long way in challenging extremist misreadings of the Qur’an by some Muslims.
Tom Shevory received a grant for his proposal, "The Fightin' Side of Me: War in Iraq through the Lenses of Country Music." Following is a synopsis of his proposal:
Hank Williams, the “father of country music,” was hardly macho. He, and the characters that he gave voice to, were rather pathetic: Couldn’t keep a job. Couldn’t keep a woman. Couldn’t keep sober. Headed, as you might say, towards an early grave. Over time, however, much of what constitutes popular country music has evolved towards a caricaturized version of hyper-masculinity and aggressive nationalism. This reached a peak in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Toby Keith, the singer responsible for “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,” makes ads for “tough” Ford trucks and has been quoted that he never met a music critic, “Whose ass I couldn’t kick.” While “country music” encompasses a highly complex and ever evolving set of cultural meanings, the maps of American militarism and right-wing ideology (as well as resistance to both), can be traced over its popularizations. This project involves an interrogation of country music’s meanings in an age of empire.