Initiative on Contemporary Islamic Societies

The Harvard Initiative on Contemporary Islamic Societies (ICIS), directed by Cemal Kafadar, Vehbi Koç Professor of Turkish Studies, Department of History, was started with seed money from the Provost Fund for Interfaculty Collaboration and continues, in part, from the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation (January 1, 2011–January 30, 2015). This initiative provides a venue for substantive discussion at the intersection of human rights, Islamic studies, and broader Muslim societal issues.

The ICIS project aims are to build a research network to bring together scholars exploring pluralism and human diversity across Muslim societies, as well as the implications of building, supporting, and managing systems that draw strength from the social diversity that infuses them. This resulting research network has a primary focus on majority and minority ethno-religious community relations in diverse Muslin-majority and minority societies with a strong comparative, historical, political, and legal analytical framework.

Oversight Committee

The Initiative’s Oversight Committee also includes the following senior faculty from across Harvard:

  • Gurney Professor of History Roy Mottahedeh
  • Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Committee on the Study of Religion, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor William A. Graham
  • Professor of Islamic Religious Studies, Harvard Divinity School Baber Johansen

Emran Qureshi and Derya Honça are co-founders and Program Managers in this venture. Emran Qureshi is a fellow at the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. Derya Honça is a staff member of the Harvard Kennedy School.

The Initiative organizes workshops and events to enhance and build the collaborative network. The Initiative's most recent workshop was held on October 24-25, 2014, titled Workshop on Military Regimes, Diversity and Sectarianism in Muslim Societies

The inaugural workshop for the Initiative was held October 2011 titled Pluralism, Coexistence and Conflict: Majority and Minority Communities in Muslim Societies.