A conference presented by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, Harvard University Asia Center, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Visions of culture among the Muslims of Russia, Central Asia, and Western China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries have long been dominated by the broadly defined cohort known as the "Jadids," and by similarly broad notions of the Islamic "modernism" of which this group was allegedly both a vanguard and a vessel. In recent years, however, a number of researchers have gone beyond the familiar narrative which pits "modernist Jadids" against "traditionalists" to reveal a more intricate arrangement of allegiances and motivations. Thus, some scholars have arrived at a novel set of conclusions which will form the critical template of this conference: 1) what has been called "Jadidism" was not a coherent political or cultural "movement," but rather a set of cultural practices which were enmeshed in a derivative discourse of Islamic reformism reflecting broad and long-term shifts in communal organizations and doctrinal practices; 2) Central Asian religious authorities and intellectuals frequently shifted from seemingly "modernist" to seemingly "traditionalist" intellectual postures according to different discursive contexts with a view to achieving specific purposes; 3) both the motivations and the achievements of "reform" discourses have very often been misapprehended or misconstrued by scholars; and, finally, 4) the heuristic value of such terms as "Islamic modernism," "traditionalism" and "Jadidism" must ultimately be called into question for the Central Eurasian context.
Taking these four theses as a shared orientation and a point of departure, this conference aims to bring together leading international scholars from a range of disciplines whose work on the social and cultural history of the Muslim communities of Central Asia, Russia and Western China in the modern period has helped to redefine our visions of the regions during an era of profound institutional transitions.
Devin DeWeese, Professor of Islamic and Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University
David Brophy, Lecturer in Modern Chinese History, University of Sydney, Australia
Alfrid Bustanov, TAIF Professor of the Islamic Peoples of Russia, European University, St. Petersburg
Jeff Eden, PhD candidate, Harvard University
Allen J. Frank, Independent scholar, Takoma Park, Maryland
Rozaliya Garipova, Mellon Teaching Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
Paolo Sartori, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna
Eric Schluessel, PhD candidate, Harvard University
Nathan Spannaus, Lecturer in Islam, University of Tennessee
Eren Tasar, Assistant Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Rian Thum, Assistant Professor of History, Loyola University, New Orleans
Contact: Jeff Eden
Sponsor(s): Sponsored by the Austrian Academy of Sciences; and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies program, the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, the Harvard University Asia Center, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences