Category Archives: News

Just Published from the IRCPL & CUP: Love and Forgiveness for a More Just World

love and forgiveness

The latest book in the Religion, Culture, and Public Life series published by the Columbia University Press and edited by IRCPL Director Karen Barkey, is Love and Forgiveness for a More Just World, edited by Hent de Vries and Nils F. Schott.

One can love and not forgive or out of love decide not to forgive. Or one can forgive but not love, or choose to forgive but not love the ones forgiven. Love and forgiveness follow parallel and largely independent paths, a truth we fail to acknowledge when we pressure others to both love and forgive. Individuals in conflict, sparring social and ethnic groups, warring religious communities, and insecure nations often do not need to pursue love and forgiveness to achieve peace of mind and heart. They need to remain attentive to the needs of others, an alertness that prompts either love or forgiveness to respond.

By reorienting our perception of these enduring phenomena, the contributors to this volume inspire new applications for love and forgiveness in an increasingly globalized and no longer quite secular world. With contributions by the renowned French philosophers Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion, the poet Haleh Liza Gafori, and scholars of religion (Leora Batnitzky, Nils F. Schott, Hent de Vries), psychoanalysis (Albert Mason, Orna Ophir), Islamic and political philosophy (Sari Nusseibeh), and the Bible and literature (Regina Schwartz), this anthology reconstructs the historical and conceptual lineage of love and forgiveness and their fraught relationship over time. By examining how we have used–and misused–these concepts, the authors advance a better understanding of their ability to unite different individuals and emerging groups around a shared engagement for freedom and equality, peace and solidarity.

Hent de Vries is director of the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University, where he holds the Russ Family Chair in the Humanities and Philosophy. He is also director of the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University. He is the author of Minimal Theologies: Critiques of Secular Reason in Theodor W. Adorno and Emmanuel Levinas; Religion and Violence: Philosophical Perspectives from Kant to Derrida; and Philosophy and the Turn to Religion and the editor of Religion Beyond a Concept.

Nils F. Schott is James M. Motley Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. The author of The Conversion of Knowledge: Enlightenment and Religion in Eighteenth-Century Catechisms, he has also translated several works, most recently Vladimir Jankélévitch’s Henri Bergson, which he coedited with Alexandre Lefebvre.


“Islam and Democracy in Indonesia” Now Available through IRCPL’s Arabic Translation Project


The Arabic translation of Democracy & Islam in Indonesia, by Mirjam Kunkler and Alfred Stepan, will be available beginning in November 2015.  This is the fourth and latest translation to be published through the IRCPL’s Arabic Translation Project.

Through this project, the IRCPL, with publishing partner All Prints Publishers in Beirut, is publishing a series of important English-language books on democracy and case studies on democratic transitions in Arabic for distribution throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  The aim of the project is to make more accessible some of the nuanced literature available on varieties of representative government; paths and pitfalls to democratization; and detailed case studies about democratic transitions in countries like Indonesia, Turkey, and Spain.

More information about the project is available at  To obtain a complementary copy of Democracy & Islam in Indonesia or any of the books available through the Arabic Translation Project, email


Karen Barkey and Christophe Jaffrelot, of IRCPl and CERI, Awarded Grant from Alliance for “Negotiating Pluralism in Shared Religious Sites”

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Karen Barkey, of the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life (IRCPL) at Columbia University, and Christophe Jaffrelot, of the Centre de Recherches Internationales (CERI) at Sciences Po, have been awarded a grant within the Alliance Joint Projects in support of their project “Negotiating Pluralism in Shared Religious Sites: A Comparative Study of Coexistence in the Eastern Mediterranean and India.”

“Negotiating Pluralism in Shared Religious Sites” focuses on the role of these sites in promoting intercommunal coexistence and tolerance in some instances and, in others, in fomenting conflict between different groups. The focus is on shared sites in two main regions of the world: in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the common legacy of the Ottoman Empire left hundreds of sanctuaries shared in more or less convivial ways between Christians, Muslims, and often Jews; and in India, where the sharing of religious spaces between Muslims and Hindus has been an important local tradition of practicing pluralism.

As a part of this project, the IRCPL and CERI are offering graduate research grants for two upcoming field research projects:

jaffrelotbarkey 7The first, led by Christophe Jaffrelot in India this January 2016, is now accepting applications (due November 30, 2015).  Participating students will conduct ethnographic research in Ahmedabad and Ajmer during the week of January 11-17.  More information on the grants, including full applications details, is available at

The second field research trip, led by Karen Barkey, will go to Turkey and Greece in April 2016.  More information on this trip, and information on how to apply for the associated field research grants, will be announced soon here at

The Alliance Joint Projects are intended to support transatlantic projects of the highest quality, both in scientific research and collaborative teaching efforts, between faculty members of all disciplines within the Alliance network. More information on Alliance and their programs is available at

Karen Barkey, Souleymane Bachir Diagne in Huffington Post France


IRCPL Director Karen Barkey and Chair of the Department of French and Romance Philology Souleymane Bachir Diagne have both recently published articles in Le Huffington Post, in conjunction with Villa Gillet’s Mode d’Emploi – A Festival of Ideas, an annual gathering hosted by Villa Gillet featuring two weeks of meetings, lectures, performances, and conversations which question the world of today.  

Professor Barkey writes, in “The sharing of holy places” (translated from the original French): “[I]t is imperative to explore the sharing of religious phenomenon of sacred space in modern cities,” Barkey continues, “but this must be done with an eye focused on historical, practices and policies that are embedded in such practices. These spaces represent diversity but social and cultural meanings of diversity can often be complex and contradictory.”

Professor Diagne’s article, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” discusses the shared religion of humanity, and one’s responsibility toward another who shares that humanity.

Both articles may be read in the original French at

These articles were published in conjunction with Villa Gillet’s Mode d’Emploi – A Festival of Ideas, an annual gathering hosted by Villa Gillet featuring two weeks of meetings, lectures, performances, and conversations which question the world of today.  The festival will continue; detailed updates to the Mode d’Emploi program, in light of the terrorist attacks this past November 13, are available here.

Malek Jandali Trio Performance to Benefit Syrian Children

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On November 5th, Students Organize for Syria, the IRCPL, and the Muslim Students Association hosted the Malek Jandali Trio performing a benefit concert for Syrian children.  Revenues from the event were donated to Save the Children Syrian Fund, which will be used to support educational infrastructure for refugees and provide needed supplies for those stranded outside of their home country.

Donations directly to Save the Children may still be made on their website, at

Students Organize for Syria is a group aimed at raising awareness of the Syrian cause, and helping to alleviate the current humanitarian crisis in Syria.

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New from the IRCPL & CUP: “The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century”


The latest book in the Religion, Culture, and Public Life series published by the Columbia University Press and edited by IRCPL Director Karen Barkey, is The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century, written by Henri Lauzière.  The Making of Salafism will be available in November, 2015.

Some Islamic scholars hold that Salafism is an innovative and rationalist effort at Islamic reform that emerged in the late nineteenth century but disappeared in the mid twentieth. Others argue Salafism is an anti-innovative and antirationalist movement of Islamic purism that dates back to the medieval period yet persists today. Though they contradict each other, both narratives are considered authoritative, making it hard for outsiders to grasp the history of the ideology and its core beliefs.

Introducing a third, empirically based genealogy, The Making of Salafism understands the movement as a recent conception of Islam projected back onto the past, and it sees its purist evolution as a direct result of decolonization. Henri Lauzière builds his history on the transnational networks of Taqi al-Din al-Hilali (1894-1987), a Moroccan Salafi who, with his associates, oversaw Salafism’s modern development. Traveling from Rabat to Mecca, from Calcutta to Berlin, al-Hilali interacted with high-profile Salafi scholars and activists who eventually abandoned Islamic modernism in favor of a more purist approach to Islam. Today, Salafis claim a monopoly on religious truth and freely confront other Muslims on theological and legal issues. Lauzière’s pathbreaking history recognizes the social forces behind this purist turn, uncovering the popular origins of what has become a global phenomenon.

Henri Lauzière is assistant professor of history at Northwestern University. His research focuses on modern Islamic intellectual history in the Middle East and North Africa, with a particular interest in the ways in which historians process and produce knowledge about ideas.

Conference on “Islam & World Peace” an International Success

For three days this September 2015, the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University; the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University; and Majalis (African Muslim Heritage) co-hosted a group of researchers, journalists, government officials, and religious leaders for a conference which included, in addition to a series of academic panels and discussions, Sufi music, poetry, fine art, and food.


Conference participants examined the successes and struggles of the Senegalese Sufi model for nonviolence, tolerance, and coexistence, and discussed the lessons of Sufi leaders as a means of political and cultural resistance.

album_warc_clip_image012Islam & World Peace: Perspectives from African Muslim Nonviolence Traditions” was the American component of an international partnership: panels were also held concurrently in Dakkar, Senegal, organized by the West African Research Center (WARC).  On Sunday, September 13th, the two groups convened via web-conference for a dialogue in which clerics and academics responded to extremisms.album_panels_clip_image064

This conference, a part of the Sufi Islam in 21st Century Politics project, made possible through a grant from the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs, was organized by project leaders Mamadou Diouf and Souleymane Bachir Diagne and by Majalis President Abdoul Aziz Mbacké.  The third project leader for Sufi Islam in 21st Century Politics, Katherine Pratt Ewing, has organized a conference on Sufis in Pakistan and India to be held two weeks later.

album_participants_clip_image062Many more photos from both the American and the Senegalese events are available at

You can watch the opening ceremonies for the conference, including remarks from Mamadou Diouf, Karen Barkey, and Abdoul Aziz Mbacké, as well as musical performances by Sufi singers Musa Dieng Kala and Ahmeth Diop, below.  More videos, including interviews with select members of the American participants can be found at