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Sponsored by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. Cosponsored by the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry, with the cooperation of the Brandeis Interfaith Chaplaincy, the Mandel Center for the Humanities and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.
Religion and the Quest to Contain Violence
March 14, 2011
Asma Afsaruddin is professor of Islamic studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research focuses on the pre-modern and modern religious and political thought of Islam, Qura’n and hadith, Islamic intellectual history, and gender. She is the author and/or editor of six books, including Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought and Praxis (Oxford University Press, 2011, forthcoming); The First Muslims: History and Memory (Oneworld Publications, 2008), and Excellence and Precedence: Medieval Islamic Discourse on Legitimate Leadership (Brill, 2002). Professor Afsaruddin has also published numerous scholarly articles and popular essays on topics as diverse as pluralism and moderation in Islamic thought, war and peace in Islam, inter-faith relations, and discourses on reform in the Muslim world. She lectures widely on these topics in the US, Europe, and the Middle East and frequently consults with governmental and non-governmental organizations. Afsaruddin is currently a senior editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women (2012), an advisor to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life for the project “Global Survey of Muslims,” chair of the board of directors of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, and member of the advisory board of the journal Intertwined Worlds (Woolf Institute, Cambridge University). Her research has won funding from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, among others.
Bernadette J. Brooten, Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies and of Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis University, is founder and director of the Brandeis Feminist Sexual Ethics Project. This project aims to create Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sexual ethics rooted in freedom, mutuality, meaningful consent, responsibility, and female (as well as male) pleasure, untainted by slave-holding values. These religions’ sacred texts and traditions have all tolerated slavery, which has frequently involved the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Brooten heads a team of scholars, activists, artists, and policy analysts who are disentangling the nexus of slavery, religion, women, and sexuality. They aim to help religious and other people complete the abolition of slavery and move beyond harmful racial and sexual stereotypes. Because religion is a powerful social force, transformed religious sexual ethics, based not on scriptural literalism or the hierarchies of ancient slave-holding societies but on respect, will benefit the whole of society. Brooten is editing the essays that were presented at a major public conference, “Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacy” (October 15–16, 2006, Brandeis University), and she is writing a book on early Christian women who were enslaved or who owned enslaved laborers. She has written Women Leaders in The Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues (1982), and Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (1996), for which she received three awards, and she has edited Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacies (forthcoming 2010). She has also published on various topics in ancient Jewish and early Christian history. In addition to a MacArthur Fellowship, she has held fellowships from the Harvard Law School, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and many other agencies. Brooten studied at the University of Portland (B.A. 1971), the University of Tübingen, Hebrew University, and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1982). She previously taught at the School of Theology at Claremont, the Claremont Graduate School, the University of Tübingen, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Oslo.
James Carroll, a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, is a novelist and a journalist whose writings on politics, religion, and culture have challenged thinkers and government leaders in America and elsewhere. He has studied poetry and religion, and he has worked as a civil rights activist and a professor. In 1969, he became Catholic chaplain at Boston University, but left the priesthood in 1974 to write full time. Carroll has published ten novels, including The City Below (1996), a New York Times Notable Book, and numerous award-winning works of nonfiction, including An American Requiem: God, My Father and the War that Came Between Us (1996), which won the National Book Award in 1996. His weekly column in the Boston Globe reminds readers of the moral imperatives that govern all people in a pluralistic society. His book Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History was released in 2001, followed by Toward a New Catholic Church in 2002. His tenth novel, Secret Father, was published in 2005. In 2006, he published House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power, which won the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award. The documentary film James Carroll's Constantine's Sword, based on his book, was released in theaters in April 2008 and is available on DVD. Practicing Catholic, in which he examines why he is still a practicing member of the religion, was published in April 2009. Carroll taught an undergraduate course at Brandeis in Spring 2009 called "Sacred Violence: An Investigation in History and Theology," which explored the relationship between religion and violence, with special focus on Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. He is currently Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Suffolk University in Boston. Carroll's latest book, Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World, will be published in March, 2011.
Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. Her scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of anti-Semitism. Her numerous publications include Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (University of Chicago Press), which won a National Jewish Book Award and Germany's Geiger Prize, and The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press). She is the author of over seventy articles and has edited several books, including Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays of Abraham Joshua Heschel; Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (with Robert P. Ericksen); Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism (with David Biale and Michael Galchinsky). The recipient of many grants and awards, she has been a Rockefeller Fellow at the National Humanities Center, and was awarded a Scholar's Grant by the Carnegie Foundation that has given her two years of leave, starting in January 2009, to write a book on the history of Jewish scholarship on Islam. During her leave, she is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University.
Kanan Makiya is the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. Born in Baghdad, he left Iraq to study architecture at M.I.T, later joining Makiya Associates to design and build projects in the Middle East. In 1981, he left the practice of architecture and began to write a book about Iraq. Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq (1989) became a best-seller after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Makiya's next book, The Monument (1991), is an essay on the aesthetics of power and kitsch. Both Republic of Fear and The Monument were written under the pseudonym, Samir al-Khalil. Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World (1993), was published under Makiya's own name. It was awarded The Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book on international relations published in English in 1993. In 2000 he published The Rock: A Seventh-Century Tale of Jerusalem, a work of historical fiction that tells the story of the building of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Along with these books, Makiya has written for The Independent, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement and The Times. Makiya has been profiled in many books and publications including The New Yorker (Jan 6, 1992) and The New York Times Magazine (Oct.7, 2007). He has collaborated on several films for television, the most known of which exposed for the first time the 1988 campaign of mass murder in northern Iraq known as the Anfal. The film, originally aired in January 1992 on the BBC, was shown by Frontline in the U.S. under the title "Saddam's Killing Fields," and received the Edward R. Morrow Award For Best Television Documentary On Foreign Affairs for 1992. Professor Makiya's books are available in many languages including Arabic, French, Turkish and Spanish. In 2003 he founded the Iraq Memory Foundation, a NGO based in Baghdad and the US dedicated to issues of remembrance, violence and identity formation. The Memory Foundation has collected and digitized nearly 10 million pages of Ba'th era documents and has been supported by both the Iraqi and U.S. governments as well as many foundations.
Martin E. Marty serves as the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he has taught religious history primarily at the Divinity School for over 35 years. Upon his retirement in 1998, the Divinity School renamed its Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion The Martin Marty Center. “Marty” is one of the most prominent interpreters of religion and culture today. He specializes in late eighteenth and twentieth-century American religion. Among his many directorships include heading the Fundamentalism Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Public Religion Project at the University of Chicago. The author of over 50 books, Marty has written the three-volume Modern American Religion (University of Chicago Press). Other books are The One and the Many: America’s Search for the Common Good; Education, Religion and the Common Good; and Politics, Religion and the Common Good; and with photographer Micah Marty, Places Along the Way; Our Hope for Years to Come; The Promise of Winter; and When True Simplicity Is Gained. His Righteous Empire won the National Book Award. Some of Marty's numerous awards and honors include the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Award, the Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the University of Chicago Alumni Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal of the Association of Theological Schools, and the Order of Lincoln Medallion (Illinois' top honor). He has received 80 honorary doctorates. Marty is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Chandler Rosenberger is Assistant Professor of International and Global Studies and Sociology at Brandeis University. A historical sociologist specializing in the cultural foundations of politics, Rosenberger is especially interested in the intellectual roots of political revolutions. Rosenberger studied History and Philosophy at Dartmouth College and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Oxford. From 1992 to 1994, he covered the collapse of Czechoslovakia and the war in Yugoslavia as a journalist and as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs. After seven years in Europe Rosenberger returned to the United States to write a dissertation at Boston University on the dissident intellectuals who led Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution.” He then taught international relations at Boston University for nine years. Rosenberger has written about post-Communist Central Europe for scholarly journals and for such publications as Critical Review, Human Rights Watch, World Policy Journal, and The Wall Street Journal. He is now writing a biography of former Czech dissident and president, Václav Havel, for Prentice Hall. Outside of his academic work, Rosenberger serves on the Board of Advisors of the Apollinaire Theatre Company in Chelsea, MA.
S. Ilan Troen is the Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies and Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. Before joining Brandeis, he served as director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute and Archives in Sede Boker, Israel, and dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences at Ben-Gurion University. He has authored or edited numerous books in American, Jewish and Israeli history. He is also the founding editor of Israel Studies (Indiana University Press), an international journal that publishes three issues annually on behalf of Brandeis and Ben-Gurion University. His most recent book publications include Jewish Centers and Peripheries: European Jewry Between America and Israel 50 Years after World War II (1998); The Americanization of Israel (2001), with Glenda Abramson; Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel and America (2001), with Deborah Dash-Moore; Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement (2003); and, with Jacob Lassner, Jews and Muslims in the Arab World; Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined (2007). Forthcoming with Maoz Azaryahu in 2011 is Tel Aviv: The First Century; Visions, Designs and Actualities.