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Ordeal of Time: Affordances of Genre for the Anthropology of Islam

Ordeal of Time: Affordances of Genre for the Anthropology of Islam
170 St. George Street, Room 318
Time: Sep 25th, 12:00 pm End: Sep 25th, 1:30 pm
Interest Categories: Islamic Studies, Diaspora/Transnational, Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Basit Kareem Iqbal

The Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies presents

Basit Kareem Iqbal, University of California, Berkeley

Ordeal of Time: Affordances of Genre for the Anthropology of Islam

The historicist social sciences have long presented contemporary Islam as what has survived modern crises (from colonialism to globalization). But their secular idiom of crisis only reproduces the logic of norm and exception, continuity or closure. This paper instead elaborates a figure of “tribulation” (fitna, bala) in order to animate another tradition of thinking the difficulty of the present. For these genres—including Quran, ethics, law, theology, historiography, and apocalyptic—release temporalities where the possibility of a limit is raised without the presumption or desire to pass beyond it, because the limit is shown or known to be ineluctable. Developing “ordeal” as an analytic term for the anthropology of Islam will allow for a more adequate conceptualization of what Koselleck calls the “contemporaneity of the noncontemporaneous,” what de Certeau calls “a passion of what is,” what Asad simply calls “tradition.” Because it resists the secular-triumphalist periodization of Islam (in that the social-scientific effort at separating this time from its past is itself a trial to be endured), this figure opens the possibility of an antihistoricist social science.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, contact the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at 416 946 8464.


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