Series Editors: Walid Ghali, Jeff Tan and Sarah Bowen Savant
The Abdou Filali-Ansary Occasional Paper Series is in honour of the Founding Director of AKU-ISMC, Abdou Filali-Ansary, a renowned scholar and well-known public figure whose work closely aligns to the vision and mission of AKU-ISMC. In this Series, we publish progressive, innovative research to generate discussion and contribute to the advancement of knowledge. The papers represent work from affiliated faculty, fellows, researchers, and doctoral students across a wide range of research areas, demonstrating both the depth and breadth of research being undertaken at the Institute. We also offer the opportunity for our Masters students who have won the best thesis award to publish an abridged version of their thesis with us. We welcome submissions from external researchers that address current AKU-ISMC research priorities. The views expressed in the Series are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of AKU-ISMC. Although occasional papers are not formally peer reviewed, they are thoroughly researched and are reviewed by members of our research team. Copyright rests with the authors.
Aaron W. Hughes Prof
This is a set of critical reflections on the place and role of ‘theory and method’ within the context of the study of Islam, especially (but not solely) as carried out in the field of religious studies, over the course of roughly the last twenty years. The goal here is not to criticise, but instead to come at this issue of ‘theory and method’ in the study of Islam from a more mature perspective. At present in the field there is a diverse set of attempts to imagine ‘Islam’, not as a theological category that must be defended, but as something embedded in and indistinct from the manifold cultures in which Muslims find themselves.
Football as Soft Power: The Political Use of Football in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Vitas Rafael Carosella
In November 2022 Qatar hosts the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region FIFA World Cup. This paper seeks to understand the use of football as a soft power political tool in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Based on culture, values and policies, soft power is power through attraction as opposed to coercion. The stronger one player’s values, culture and policies are, the more soft power that player has. Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, traditional fossil fuel-based states, suffer from a lack of attraction. By investing in football, each nation hopes to project a new image and ensure future relevance. Qatar uses football to increase its standing in the international community, helping to ensure its own protection in case of regional disputes. The UAE uses football to help convert itself into an international travel and business centre, while Saudi Arabia invests in football to help project a progressive image of itself to the world and ensure regime security
Gianluca Parolin, Nadia Sonnevald, Nathalie Bernard- Maugiron, and Enas Lofti
This paper interrogates the very form of collective decision making that legislation signifies, its operationalisation in adjudication, and its interrelation with popular culture. Through the lens of the Egyptian legal system, the paper offers case-studies of collective decision making on matters of personal status, it focuses on the state's different approach towards the regulation of personal status for its Muslim and non-Muslim citizens; in the legal context of the ‘best interests of the child’ it looks at the multiple entanglements of legislation and its eventual actualisation in Egyptian courts; and it uses classical examples of Egyptian cinema popularly associated with changes in legislation – underlining how the big screen in Egypt has often been the place where some of the most contentious and divisive matters of personal status have been discussed.
Maria Frederika Malmström and Mark Levine
How does sound shape and/or constrain the actions of individuals and groups? In what ways does 'touching sound' constitute important stimuli within everyday experiences and how/why does sound induce strong affective states? How does listening to noise as well as to silences, screeches and songs, clicks and pops, affect us? By focusing on the under-studied realm of sound we increase our understanding of the politics of the sonic. This text opens an interdisciplinary conduit that should enable cross-fertilizations between the disciplines of anthropology, ethnomusicology, history, cultural studies, religious studies and political sociology, bringing together studies of aesthetic production, the environment, sub- and counter-cultures and technologies and affective dimensions of state as well as societal power and contestation problems.
Legal Translation in a Political Context: The Trick of Choosing between Alternatives in Translating Electoral Terms
Legal electoral terminology is a specialist subject within the broader legal language discourse. When translating into Arabic, even basic electoral terms can be translated differently in different Arab countries for various reasons due to different sources of inspiration. Most legal electoral terms have a variety of alternative equivalents within the relevant linguistic field or semi-legal domain. This paper discusses such alternatives while presenting problems related to the existing resources in the field. Data collected from the 2012 election of members of the Libyan General National Congress are analysed to test the consistency in selecting from these alternatives. Furthermore, material presented in various recently compiled dictionaries, glossaries and manuals of electoral terms are used as examples. The hypothesis drawn from working on a large body of material translated from English into Arabic is that the consistency in selecting equivalents for electoral legal terms is only partial. Consistency is more apparent when terms are law proper but not otherwise. Also, material from different sources indicates problems concerning standardisation, abbreviations and acronyms as well as cultural and linguistic problems.
This paper maps the discursive and ideological habitus in which UK think-tanks operate in connection with the ‘war on terror’. It discusses how UK think-tanks have both shaped and been shaped by this habitus and the impact their work has had on counter-terrorism policy in the UK. It begins by discussing the concept of think-tanks and their role and input into politics. It then sketches the rise of ‘terrorism’ as both an academic object of study, from the mid-1970s onwards, and as an increasingly vital policy area for governments and the military-security establishment, especially after 9/11. The paper then focuses on UK think-tanks dividing them into three broad categories: conservative-orthodox think-tanks, establishment think-tanks and alternative-radical think-tanks.
Walid Ghali, Waseem Farooq, Paul Auchterlonie, and Arnoud Vrolijk
The three papers collected here are based on a seminar on Islamic Studies Librarianship held on 31 January 2019 at the Aga Khan Library (AKL), in conjunction with the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC). Curators, area studies directors, and collection librarians, who are currently involved in this field, gathered to discuss common challenges and to identify strategic areas for collaboration.
Maryam Ghadyani, Hinna Hussain, Wael Odeh, and Philip Wood
This paper describes the reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak on social media in Iran, Syria and Pakistan. In particular, we focus on issues of the place of religion in society, on international relations and on trust between society and government, where these issues have been invoked in the discussion of the epidemic. We conclude with timelines for the early phases of the epidemic in the three countries.
Sevgi Adak, Touraj Atabaki, Kamran Matin, and Valentine M. Moghadam
The three articles compiled here are based on a panel discussion held at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) on 23 May 2019.
Marking the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, its aim was to revisit the debate on the causes and impact of the revolution for Iran and beyond.
Three questions in particular guided the interdisciplinary dialogue and political reflections on this world historical event: How should we analyse the conditions underpinning the revolutionary dynamics in Iran in the global context of the 1970s? How should the Iranian Revolution be analysed in an historical-comparative perspective? And, what is the legacy, or rather, the multiple legacies, of the revolution for the political struggles in Iran and the Middle East today