Summer Institute for Scholars – 2015

The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) invites abstract submissions for its 8th Summer Institute for Scholars, which will be held between June 8 and June 13, 2015, at its headquarters in Herndon, Virginia, USA. The Summer Institute is an annual meeting dedicated to the study of contemporary approaches in Islamic thought, that brings together senior and young scholars in order to present papers and participate in panels and in-depth discussions focused on topics related to a particular theme. This year’s theme is “Constitutions and Pluralism in Muslim States and Societies.”

The Arab Uprisings and their aftermath have brought to the fore once again the discussions on constitutions, constitutionalism, constitution-making, and legal and religious pluralisms in Muslim societies. In pre-modern forms, such discussions were primarily confined to the interpretive communities consisting of religious-legal scholars who brokered new interpretations based on their re-reading of classical legal-political heritage. In the modern forms, the discussions have shifted to the more immediate questions of constitutional democracy and promotion of pluralism, as well as human rights in the Muslim world. During the latter period, the main participants included political and religious elites, as well as post-colonial and Western advisers. The Arab Uprisings created a space for the masses to participate in these deliberations – through public discourse, demonstrations, social media activism, legal challenges, and referendums. The events that transpired since the Uprisings started further underscore the need for inclusive constitutions, guaranteeing political and religious pluralism. In other parts of the Muslim world, such as in South and Southeast Asia (eg., Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia), recent socio-political development only augmented the need for an in-depth discussion on the issues of constitutionalism, pluralism, and human rights.

Summer Institute for Scholars invites original, previously unpublished submissions – both theoretical and case-studies, covering historical and contemporary settings – that examine, but are not limited to, the following:

  •   Constitutional politics in post-colonial era;
  •   Constitution-making processes;
  •   Political empowerment of post-colonial Muslim administrations;
  •   Defining religious and legal pluralisms in Islam and Muslim societies;
  •   Status of non-Muslim minorities;
  •   New role of religion and religious scholars in modern Muslim nation-states;
  •   Islam and human rights in the constitution;
  •   Maqasid al-Shari‘ah and constitutional theory;
  •   Legal parallelisms and hierarchies (civil-Islamic law) within constitutions;
  •   Legal centrism and pluralism.

We want to broaden the conversation beyond the usual Middle East centered discourse, and are inviting contributions that focus on other countries and regions of the world as well – without neglecting the countries in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) regions.

In addition to the established methods of research in religion, legal studies, humanities, and social sciences, the Summer Institute welcomes contributions from scholars who incorporate faith-based perspectives and integrated epistemologies into their scholarship.

Beside paper presentations by the participants, the Institute will host several prominent scholars, intellectuals, and policymakers who will deliver special lectures and participate in panel discussions. They are:

  • Rachid Ghannouchi (Tunisia, leader of Ennahda Movement) – invited
  • Prof. Asifa Quraishi-Landes (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Prof. Mohammad Fadel (University of Toronto)
  • Prof. Asma Afsaruddin (Indiana University)
  • Prof. Andrew March (Yale University)

Deadline for abstracts is January 10, 2015. Abstracts are limited to 500 words. Final paper should be between 6,000 and 10,000 words. Please email abstract (max.500 words) and CV to Ermin Sinanović, Director of Research and Academic Programs:

IIIT will cover travel costs (up to $500), hotel accommodation during the Summer Institute, and will pay each scholar a per diem of $100 for participation ($800 total in per diem).

Decisions on abstracts will be made by late January 2015. Final papers are due by May 1, 2015. Funding is contingent on full paper submission.
The Institute will convene on June 8, and will conclude on June 13, 2015. Participants should expect to arrive to Herndon, VA, on June 7 and depart on June 14. The nearest airport is Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), only about 5 miles from the Institute.

IIIT will publish selected papers in an edited volume, within one year after the Seminar. The contributors will be compensated $1,000 for publication.