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Call for Applications: Understanding Shari’a: Past Perfect, Imperfect Present

Uses of the Past in Islamic Legal Thought and Practice Summer School” project aims to make a contribution to raising the level of public debate around these issues by emphasising the creative and future-orientation of modern Muslim understandings of the past.

Much modern Muslim thought, particularly around legal issues, is characterised by an emulation of past perfection, and a dissatisfaction with an imperfect present. Muslim communities and movements (be they radical and violent or liberal and progressive) usually frame their programmes for change as attempts to preserve, revive and recapture the belief and practice of the past Muslim community. From terrorism which claims to be Islamic (most recently the emergence of Islamic State and the Charlie Hebdo attacks) to the European Shari’a law debates, the need for a greater understanding of the pivotal role of historical precedent in the construction of contemporary Muslim thinking is clear. It is this need the Understanding Shari’a Project aims to address. The participants, all internationally recognised experts in the study of Islamic law, will create a research base and draw on an international networks of expertise. They will also engage in activities whereby this knowledge can be disseminated to a wider, non-academic audience (including both those within and outside of the Muslim community). Understanding the importance of the perceptions of the past, and the authority drawn from precedent for current Muslim thought and practice is too often misunderstood within the academic community (viewing it sometimes as ‘blind imitation’ of the past), but more crucially amongst policy makers and the general public. This project aims to make a contribution to raising the level of public debate around these issues by emphasising the creative and future-orientation of modern Muslim understandings of the past. The project is a collaboration of four institutions: Universities of Exeter, Leiden, Gottingen and Bergen, and in each institution an established academic (Gleave, Buskens, Schneider and Vikor) will work with a postdoctoral researcher; the project will meet for both academic and public events every six-months, working with both academics and practitioners.

Call for Applications: Understanding Shari’a: Past Perfect, Imperfect Present

Uses of the Past in Islamic Legal Thought and Practice Summer School

8th –14th July 2018 University of Exeter, UK

You are inviting advanced doctoral students and early career researchers (see definitions below) in the area of Islamic Legal Studies, to apply to participate in the USP PIP Summer school.

USPPIP is a collaborative project of the universities of Exeter, Bergen, Gottingen and Leiden. The project (running from 2016 to 2018) aims to explore how the past is employed in Islamic legal thought and practice with a focus on the areas of violence, the state, gender and custom.

The aims of the Summer School are for the participants to:

  1. share research findings in Islamic law, and gain feedback from the peers and the USPPIP project team, preparing that research for publication.
  2. contribute to the research agenda of the USPPIP project through discussions and translations of original source material not currently available in English.
  3. network with an international group of scholars, and explore new avenues for future research in Islamic legal studies.

Summer School activities will include:

  1. the presentation and discussion of a pre-distributed piece of research writing (maximum 10,000 words) from each participant.
  2. the development of a translation (with introduction and /or commentary) of original source material, previously unavailable in English which informs our study of the “uses o f the past” in Islamic law (maximum 3000 words in English).

Participants will arrive on Saturday 7th July, and leave on Saturday 14th July. Sunday’s programme will consist of introductory activities. Intensive sessions will take place Monday to Friday, and will include private study time, collaborative work and occasional recreational outing s exploring the city of Exeter and its environs. It is essential that participants commit to attending the whole week of the Summer School.

Eight fully-funded places are available on the Summer School. Funding will include travel to and from Exeter, accommodation and subsistence whilst in Exeter. The Summer School sessions will take place in the Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies. Participants will include members of the USPPIP team (drawn from the universities of Bergen, Exeter, Gottingen and Leiden), invited scholars and members of the Centre for the Study of Islam in the University of Exeter see (http://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/iais/research/centres/csi/).

Application Instructions

  1. The deadline for applications is midnight (UK time) Wednesday 28 th February 2018. We intend to notify successful applicants before Wednesday 14th March 2018.
  2. Applications are to be made by email to usppip@exeter.ac.uk in advance of the deadline, and should have in the subject line: Summer School Application .
  3. Applications should take the form of a single WORD document attachment of no more than 4 pages consisting of:

(a) your CV including Name and contact details, educational qualifications, any academic work experience, principal publications (1 page maximum).

(b) your research proposal , being a précis of your area of research area (PhD thesis proposal or similar) in Islamic Legal Studies, and a description (or abstract) of the piece of written research you intend to submit for discussion in the Summer School. This might be a chapter of your PhD thesis or an article or chapter in preparation for publication. It must be written in English. Please do not send the piece itself. (1-2 pages).

(c) An introduction to the translated text you intend to present, including the rationale for selecting it, its relation to the “uses of the past” theme. The text can be in any language other than English, and can be a theoretical discussion of how the past is used in Islamic law, or an example of the use of the past in Islamic legal thought and practice. The translation, which will be developed during the Summer School, will total around 3000 words in English (1 page maximum).

  1. For the purposes of the summer school application process, the following definitions are used:

Advanced Doctoral Students should be in the final 12 months of their degree before submission (i.e. your submission deadline/target should be before 28th February 2019 – you must indicate your level of completion in section (b) research proposal of your application).  Early Career Researchers should have received their doctoral within 14 months of the submission deadline (i.e. you must have been awarded your doctorate in 2017 or 2018; you must indicate this in the CV section of your application).

  1. The working language of the Summer School will be English, and all participants should be comfortable communicating in English. Written work to be shared and discussed will all be in English.
  2. Selection of participants will be carried out by the USPPIP project team on the basis of academic quality of application and fit to the “Uses of the Past” theme. Applications are particularly encouraged which relate to one of the four foci of the USPPIP project: violence, the state, gender and custom. For more information about the USPPIP Project aims, areas of interest and activities, applicants should consult www.usppip.eu.
  3. We will assist, to the best of our ability and resources, with visa applications for the UK for those successful applicants who need a visa, but we cannot guarantee the award of a visa as this is not within our control.

Queries regarding the summer school should be addressed in the first instance to Mrs Pam Navran ( usppip@exeter.ac.uk).

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