Friday, 27 January 2012

Call for Papers: Renaissance Old Worlds: English Encounters from the Levant to the Far East

Conference announcement    (please reply to organisers, not myself!)

Renaissance Old Worlds: English Encounters from the Levant to the Far East

The British Library

29 June - 1 July 2012

The early modern period saw England establishing its first colonies in the New World, but its ideas and expectations about foreign nations, travel and its identity as a political and economic power on the global stage were influenced largely by its experiences in other distant but familiar nations. This conference will investigate English interactions with the ‘old worlds’ of the Middle East, South Asia and the Far East. It will ask how such cross-encounters may have shaped not only the literature, art and cultures of England and the host nations, but also a broad range of intellectual, political, cultural, religious and economic determinants of England’s relationship with the wider world.

Overarching questions to be investigated by the conference include:

(1) How did English cultural memories of the Old World, from art, literature and political events such as conflicts in the Islamic Mediterranean, influence actual travel encounters?

(2) How did information and expertise about distant places circulate, and who were the agents of such circulation (from missionaries, merchants, administrators, and indigenous informants, to artisans and scholars)?

(3) What form did the information take (from maps and texts to material artefacts)?

(4) How did religion inflect political and social negotiations? (How is anxiety about piracy in the Islamic Mediterranean and North Africa, for instance, connected to anxieties about conversion between Christianity and Islam?)

(5) What role did trading companies, both those established by the English and their European trading competitors, play in determining structures of knowledge and cross-cultural encounters?

Proposals are invited for complete panels of three or four papers, as well as individual papers on one of the following themes:

·         Interplay between ‘old worlds’ and ‘new’

·         Circulation networks

·         Visual and material culture (art, cartography, crafts)

·         Trade, diplomacy, piracy

·         Gift-exchange

·         Religion and conversion

·         Translation and transformation

Please send abstracts (250 words for individual papers and 500 words for complete panels) and a brief biographical statement (if proposing a panel, one for each participant) to Nandini Das at by 1 March 2012. Papers should take between 15–20 minutes to present, and panels should last no longer than 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Friday, 20 January 2012

'UK's first course in women, Islam and the media launched'

Guardian, UK's first course in women, Islam and the media launched, 19 Jan 2012 "The 12-week module, which the university claims is the first of its kind in the UK, will cover the often inflammatory topics of veil wearing, arranged marriage and "honour" crimes – looking at how they are portrayed in contemporary film, TV and other media, and how this reflects cultural biases in both the east and west."

'Growing use of Sharia by UK Muslims'

BBC News, Growing use of Sharia by UK Muslims, 18 Jan 2012 "The use of Sharia law is thriving in Britain with a growing number of Muslims using it to settle their disputes."

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Abu Qatada

Evening Standard, The Abu Qatada case proves it's time to rethink human rights, 18 Jan 2012 opinion "As the European Court of Human Rights upholds Abu Qatada's appeal, it undermines its own claim to authority."

BBC, Abu Qatada wins Jordan deportation appeal, 17 Jan 2012 "Radical cleric Abu Qatada has won his appeal against deportation from the UK to Jordan, at the European Court of Human Rights."

Same-day burial plan for Cardiff after Muslim request

BBC News, Same-day burial plan for Cardiff after Muslim request, 18 Jan 2012 "A same-day burial service is being prepared for Cardiff, aimed at meeting the cultural and religious needs of mainly Muslim and Jewish communities."

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Prison issues for Muslims

Asian Age, 'Imams out of touch with young Muslims', 11 Jan 2012,

"Young Muslim men are turning away from religion in their droves because of the old-fashion attitudes in Britain’s mosques, according to the Prison Service’s Muslim advisor."

See this related story:

Guardian, Prisons inspector condemns Long Lartin's 'cages' and slopping out, 10 Jan 2012

"Hardwick [Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons] [also] says Long Lartin needs much more help from the national prison service to work successfully with the 25% of its prisoners who are Muslim.

"He discloses that those held in the detainee unit – mostly those facing deportation on national security grounds – had been denied permission to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, with other Muslim prisoners."

Ongoing trial

Daily Mail, 'Gay people should get the death penalty’: Five Muslim men on trial for stirring up hatred after 'handing out homophobic leaflets near mosque', 10 Jan 2012

Monday, 9 January 2012

New book: 'The Muslim Oskar Schindler'

Michael Theodoulou, The National, The Muslim Oskar Schindler gets belated recognition, 8 Jan 2012 "He was an aristocratic and charismatic young bon viveur who loved parties, good food, fine clothes and beautiful women. But Abdol-Hossein Sardari was also a hero.

"As a junior Iranian diplomat in wartime Paris, he saved thousands of Iranian and other Jews from becoming Holocaust victims."

'1981 files: Mecca bingo hall row with Saudi Arabia'

Duncan Gardham, Telegraph, 1981 files: Mecca bingo hall row with Saudi Arabia, 30 Dec 2011 "The opening of a chain of Mecca bingo halls in 1981 offended the Sunni Mufti of Beiruit, who said the name was "blasphemous"." [just spotted this one]

'Briton in Kenya radicalised in shoe bomber’s prison'

AFP/capitalfm Kenya, Briton in Kenya radicalised in shoe bomber’s prison, 9 Jan 2012 "An extremist accused of heading a wave of British recruits to an Al-Qaeda group plotting attacks in Kenya was radicalised in the same prison as shoe bomber Richard Reid, a report said on Sunday."

'The curry crisis'

Homa Khaleeli, Guardian, The curry crisis, 8 Jan 2012 "Chicken tikka masala is now an integral part of British culture, but can our curry houses survive the recession – and the government's immigration policy?"

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Exeter Mosque, Exeter Mosque: A testament to religious harmony in UK, 29 Dec 2011 "The little room used as a mosque in Exeter back in 1975 has grown and expanded into a beautiful mosque and Islamic cultural center to cater to the increasing number of Muslims in that sleepy university town in southwest England."

Syed Aziz Pasha

Ahmed J Versi, Muslim News, Dr Pasha laid the foundation of the British Muslims in the UK, 30 Dec 2011 "Dr Syed Aziz Pasha, founder and Secretary General of the oldest British Muslim federal body in the UK, the Union of Muslim Organisations (UMO), passed away on November 23 after a long illness. Dr Pasha, 81, was one of the most respected Muslims leaders in the UK."

Opinion piece: 'Owen Jones: Beware the assumptions the Lawrence verdict gives rise to'

Opinion piece Independent, Owen Jones: Beware the assumptions the Lawrence verdict gives rise to, 5 Jan 2012 "I'm not one to normally agree with the Conservative Baroness Sayeeda Warsi but she was right to say that Islamophobia now passes the "dinner-table test". It is a bigotry even indulged by some progressives."

'When Islam met the diversity industry' opinion piece

Damian Thompson, Telegraph Blogs, When Islam met the diversity industry…, 23 Dec 2011 "This week, I was told about a London primary school whose pupils are overwhelmingly Muslim. It isn’t having a nativity play. There was a plan to sing carols in a lesson, but parents banned their children from attending."