MPV Australia - Scholarly Advisory Board
Our Scholarly Advisory Board brings together the leading thinkers of progressive Islam in Australia. Each board member has unique knowledge and skills that help us develop an approach to progressive Islam in the modern world.
PROF. SHAHRAM AKBARZADEH
Shahram Akbarzadeh is Research Professor of Middle East & Central Asian Politics and holds the prestigious ARC Future Fellowship.
He has an active research interest in the politics of Central Asia, Islam, Muslims in Australia and the Middle East. He has been involved in organising a number of key conferences, including a Chatham House rule workshop on Australia's relations with Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan (2007), sponsored by the International Centre of Excellence for Asia Pacific Studies, and a conference on the Arab Revolution with Freedom House, sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
In 2000 Professor Akbarzadeh was the Middle East Studies conference co-convener and served as the Central and West Asia Councillor for the Asian Studies Association of Australia (1999-2004). He guest edited a special issue of Asian Studies Review on the Middle East (Vol.25, No.2, 2001) and a special issue of the Journal of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies on Globalization (Vol. 5, No.2, 2000).
He has published more than 40 refereed papers. Among his publications are a sole-authored book on Uzbekistan and the United States, a co-authored book on US Foreign Policy in the Middle East, a co-authored book on Muslim Active Citizenship in the West, and a 4-volume collection on Political Islam.
Professor Akbarzadeh is the founding Editor of the Islamic Studies Series, published by Melbourne University Press, and a regular public commentator. He has produced key reports for the Australian Research Council (ARC) on Australian based scholarship on Islam, and also for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) on Muslim Voices and Mapping Employment and Education; and has produced a report on Islam in the Australian media. He acted as Convenor of the Islam Node for the ARC Asia Pacific Futures Research Network.
PROF. SAHAR AMER
I am a specialist of comparative, cross-cultural relations between Arab and Muslim societies and Western cultures (Europe and France especially, and the United States) from the Middle Ages until today. I have published extensively on gender and sexuality in Arabic and French literature, on Franco-Arab and Arab-American postcolonial identities, and on Muslim women veiling practices. The main conceptual paradigm underlying my entire research program is the notion of “borders” (cultural, linguistic, historical, and geographic), not as elements of separation and division, but rather as fluid spaces of cultural exchange, adaptation, and collaboration.
In my most recent book is entitled What Is Veiling? (forthcoming in September 2014 from the University of North Carolina Press, USA), I offer a concise introduction to one of the most visible, controversial, and least understood emblems of Islam, the veil, and I explain the role and significance of veiling in the religious, cultural, political, and social lives of Muslims, past and present. I show that the meaning of Muslim veiling extends well beyond the religious and political accounts that are often considered as the totality of most discussions of the topic. I thus address all the major aspects of veiling, including history, religion, conservative and progressive interpretations, politics and regionality, society and economics, feminism, fashion, and art.
My book, Crossing Borders: Love between Women in Medieval French and Arabic Literature(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008) was awarded the 2009 Aldo & Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies by the Modern Languages Association of America. In it, I examine cross-cultural representations of gender and sexual practices in the medieval French and Arabic traditions from 1000 to 1500 and demonstrate that the medieval Arabic tradition on eroticism has played a determining role in European (French) literary writings on gender and sexuality in the Middle Ages. I thus interrogate contemporary Western and Eastern (Arabic) assumptions about gender, as well as binary constructions of masculinity and femininity. As I focus on constructions of gender and sexualities, I extend the field of medieval cross-cultural relations, which has thus far emphasized religious polemic, the history of science, Crusader Art, and courtly love.
I also published Esope au féminin: Marie de France et la politique de l’interculturalité [A Feminine Esope: Marie de France and the Politics of Interculturality] (Rodopi, 1999) in which I explore the extent to which the French fable tradition of the twelfth century is indebted to Arabic literature and culture. This study expands existing scholarship on Marie de France in that it focuses exclusively on herFables instead of on her better known Lais, and adopts a cross-cultural approach to the genre of the medieval fable, which, until recently, has been studied solely from a Latin, and thus Western, perspective
In addition to these books, I have co-edited two volumes about Franco-Arab encounters (Contemporary French and Francophone Studies andNew Francographies), one special issue of Yale French Studies, as well as one art catalogue on Ghada Amer’s sculpture, “The Encyclopedia of Pleasure.”
Dr. Adis Duderija
Dr. Adis Duderija is currently Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society at the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences in Griffith University. Until January 2016 he was a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the University Malaya, Gender Studies. He received his Ph.D in 2010 from the University of Western Australia. His research interests include contemporary Islamic hermeneutics, Islam and gender ,Islamic and the religious other, progressive Islam, neo-traditional Salafism, contemporary Muslim reformist thought and the role of religion in western Muslims' identity construction. Dr Duderija's latest opinion pieces include Conceptualising Salafism and Why I am a Progressive Islamist. He is the author of Constructing Religiously Ideal‘Believer’ and ‘Muslim Woman’ Concepts: Neo-Traditional Salafi and Progressive Muslim Methods of Interpretation (Manahij), Palgrave, 2011,and the editor of Maqasid Al Shari’ah and Contemporary Muslim Reformist Thought,2014 and The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law: The Search for a Sound Hadith, Palgrave 2015 and numerous academic articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries.
Adis has recently published (with Routledge) a new book titled Imperatives of a Progressive Islam.
This book brings together the scholarship of leading progressive Muslim scholars, incorporating issues pertaining to politics, jurisprudence, ethics, theology, epistemology, gender and hermeneutics in the Islamic tradition. It provides a comprehensive discussion of the normative imperatives behind a progressive Muslim thought, as well as outlining its various values and aims.
Sheikh Dr. Usama Hasan
Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan is currently Senior Researcher in Islamic Studies at Quilliam (www.quilliamfoundation.org), a think-tank specialising in human rights and counter-extremism. Usama is a trained imam, having memorised the Qur'an aged 11 and led mosque prayers for over 25 years, as well as a scientist with a PhD, MA and MSc from the Universities of Cambridge and London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and an elected Member of the International Society for Science & Religion. He has translated a number of Islamic texts from Arabic and Urdu into English, including the Islamic Foundation’s “Way of the Prophet” (2009). His latest academic papers address Islamic thought, law and scientific ethics. He was a committed islamist for 20 years, before a deeper understanding of the Qur'an and life enabled him to move on in his own thinking. As a young man, Usama was one of the leaders of the salafi islamist movement in the UK that sent hundreds of fighters, including himself, to participate in “jihad” in Afghanistan and Bosnia during the 1990s. In 2014-16, Usama has worked on Islam, Politics and Conflict Resolution in the UK, Nigeria, Kosovo and MENA. He was also Convenor of the International Task Force (2014-2016) on Science and Islamic Theology that published its 230-page report on “Muslim responses to Science’s ‘Big Questions’” in March 2016, available via Muslim-Science.com