A historic symposium bringing together diverse voices from leading scholars of Shi’a thought and communities across Zaydi, Ismaili, Alevi, Alawite, Bektashi, & Twelver Ja’fari Muslim denominations and beyond at Harvard University.
The Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs is proud to host a landmark international symposium entitled “Diversity and Unity in Transnational Shi’ism” over four days (April 5-8, 2021).
This symposium brings together interdisciplinary voices from across various interpretations of Shi’a Islam in both contemporary and historical contexts with leading scholars in the field who study the diversity of Shi’a thought and communities across denominational lines including Zaydi, Ismaili, Alevi, Alawite, Bektashi, and Twelver Ja’fari Islam and more.
While individual works and scholars have focused on distinct Shi’a groups in specific countries or world regions, less attention has been paid to addressing diversity within Shi’ism from a comparative perspective or thinking about how to approach the subject of intra-Shi’a dialogue rather than interfaith dialogue more broadly. This is all the more important as the historical and contemporary legacy of Shi’a Islam is extraordinarily rich and truly global in reach.
This symposium will thus begin a larger dialogue on the historical relationship between Shi’a groups, intellectual and scholarly conversations between them, and contemporary areas of convergence and diversity that intersect with transnational Shi’a groups ranging from Twelvers in Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, to Zaydis in the Arabian Peninsula, to Isma’ilis in Tajikistan and India, to Bektashi Shi’as in the Balkans, and to Shi’a diaspora communities in the West and beyond.