About the Shi'i Studies Group

UChicago Shi'i Studies Group Symposium CFP: Shi'ism and Governance

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The University of Chicago Shiʿi Studies Group Symposium Schedule
The Franke Institute 1100 E 57th St, Chicago, IL 60637
Free and Open to the Public

Friday, May 12

8:30 am – 9:00 am: Light Breakfast

9:00 am – 9:15 am: Opening Remarks

Mohammad Sagha and Zach Winters: Graduate Directors, Shiʿi Studies Group; and, PhD Students, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

9:15 am – 10:45 am: Panel 1 – Clerical Politics in Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan
Discussant:  Orit Bashkin, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History, University of Chicago

1.  Aun Hasan Ali: Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Colorado Boulder

Muammad Isāq Fayyā on Islamic Governance

2.  Elizabeth Bishop: Associate Professor Modern Arab History, Texas State University     

“Peace Partisans” in Najaf during the Cold War

3.  Cameron Zargar: PhD Student, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA

The Concept of “if al-niām”

4.  Mashal Saif: Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Clemson University

Minority Aspirations and the Pakistani State: Shī‘a Political Theology

10:45 am – 11:00 am: Coffee and Pastry Break

11:00 am – 12:15 pm: Panel 2 – Zaydi Movements, Claims to Legitimacy and Political Order
Discussant: TBD

1.  Mohammad Sagha: PhD Student, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

Daylami Dynastic Formations, Military-Factionary Politics, and the Zaydī Imamate of the South Caspian

2.  Nebil Husayn: Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Miami

Requisites of a Legitimate Caliph: Notes from A Zaydī Imām in Buyid Baghdad

3.  Richard Harrod: Independent Scholar

Qualified Isolationism: Reconsidering the amīd al-Dīn Imamate in the 20th Century

12:15 pm – 1:45 pm: Lunch Panel and Roundtable Discussion

Moderator: TBD

1:45 pm – 3:15 pm: Panel 3 –Elite and Popular Shiʿi Politics in the Middle East
Discussant: TBD

1.  Seema Golestaneh: Assistant Professor of Iranian Studies, Indiana University Bloomington

Navigations on the Path: The Positionality of the Shariat and Tariqat in Post-Revolutionary Sufi Iran

2.  Peyman Eshaghi: PhD Student, Divinity School, University of Chicago

Political Legitimation, Public Piety, and Shiite Shrines: The Case of Imam Riza’s Shrine in Mashhad, Iran

3.  Ahmad Chehab: MA Student, Religious Studies, University of Detroit Mercy

Political Imamate in the thought of Ayatollah Kamal Haydari

4.  Elisheva Machlis: Teaching Fellow, Tel Aviv University; and, Research Fellow at the Truman Center for Peace Studies at the Hebrew University

Qom and the Revival of Mysticism and Theosophy Amidst Challenges to Religion-State Relations

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm:  Keynote Address

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Reception and Dinner


Saturday, April 1, 2016

9:30 am – 10:00 am: Light Breakfast

10:00 am – 11:30 am: Panel 4 – Messianic Thought and Theories on Leadership: the Formative and Safavid Periods
Discussant: TBD

1.  Fariba Zarinbaf: Associate Professor of History, UC Riverside

Anatolian Origins of Safavid Shi'ism

2.  Zach Winters: PhD Student, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

The Musha‘sha‘ and Safavid Messianism

3.  Torsten Hylén: Lecturer in the history of religions at Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden.

Al-Mukhtār and the Aesthetics of Persuasion

4.  Roy Vilozny: Lecturer, University of Haifa, the Department of Arabic Language and Literature

On the Imāmī notion that humans are political by nature

11:30 am – 11:45 am: Coffee Break

11:45 am – 1:15 pm: Panel 5 – Intersections between Shiʿi Political Theory, Theology, and Philosophy
Discussant: Ahmed El Shamsy, Professor of Islamic Intellectual History, University of Chicago

1.  Rodrigo Adem: Postdoctoral Fellow,  Islamic Studies, UNC Chapel Hill    

Theorizing Temporal Authority: Imamism as Political Theory and Theology

2.  Rasoul Namazi: Postdoctoral Scholar, Leo Strauss Center, University of Chicago

Sovereign Modern State and Ayatollah Khomeini’s Absolute Guardianship of the Jurist

3.  Ezra Tzfadya: PhD Candidate, Islamic Studies DAAD Doctoral Fellow, Germany

Straussian and Shiʿi Political Philosophy

4.  Ender Akyol: Professor, Inonu University, Malatya Turkey; and Azam Ahmadi PhD Student, Inonu University

Political Powers and Legitimacy of Ulama in Iran: A Comparison on the Thoughts of Molla Naraghi and Sheikh Ansari

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm: Lunch

2:15 pm – 3:30 pm: Panel 6 – Ismaʿili Political Dynamics
Discussant: TBD

1.  Mohamad Ballan, PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of Chicago

Competing Isma‘īlī Shī‘ī Notions of Succession in the 6th/12th Century: Revisiting the Hidāyah al-Āmiriyya fī Ibāl al-Da‘wa al-Nizāriyya

2.  Samuel Miller: MA Student, Divinity School, University of Chicago

The Divine Sovereignty of the Aga Khan IV: Assessing Contemporary Nizari Ismaili Political Imagination

3.  Shatha Almutawa: Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Willamette University

The King’s Dilemma: Ikhwan Al-Safa and Political Philosophy in the Abbasid Period

3:30 pm – 3:45 pm: Final Comments

About the Symposium

The University of Chicago Shiʿi Studies Symposium is an endeavor of the Shiʿi Studies Group, established in 2010, to provide an interdisciplinary, non-area-specific forum for the discussion of research on Shiʿism by faculty and graduate students at the University and beyond. The annual symposium aims to strengthen the field of Shiʿi Studies by bringing together a group of both senior and early-career scholars to present research and to cultivate an environment for intellectual discussion and collaboration. At each symposium we aim to address a focused set of questions with cross-cutting relevance to scholars working on various periods and from various disciplinary perspectives. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should email zwinters@uchicago.edu. Other inquiries can be directed towards Mohammad Sagha (msagha@uchicago.edu).

About the Shi'i Studies Group


The Shiʿi Studies Group is a forum for discussion and the presentation of studies, research and work-in-progress related to the academic study of Shiʿism covering a diverse set of textual and lived traditions, practices, philosophies and identities. The group covers Shiʿism in all periods, past and present, and is open to all disciplinary perspectives.

The Shiʿism Studies Group holds an ongoing, but episodic seminar series, in conjunction with the Middle East History and Theory (MEHAT) workshop, and the Islamic Studies workshop (Majlis) as well as talks and events co-sponsored with other groups at the University of Chicago. The seminar series involves presentations by students and faculty, visiting speakers, and round-table and informal discussions.

The Shiʿism Studies Group is also host to the SHII-STUDIES email list: shii-studies@lists.uchicago.edu

In order to suggest a speaker or a seminar session, or for any other questions, please contact the Shiʿi Studies Group Director, Mohammad Sagha, at msagha@uchicago.edu.