Inaugural Lecture: ‘Neither of the East nor of the West’ - Crossing and Dwelling in Islamic Studies
As of April 2022 Professor Oliver Scharbrodt is the holder of the chair in Islamic Studies at Lund University. ‘Neither of the East nor of the West’: Crossing and Dwelling in Islamic Studies is Scharbrodt's inaugural lecture.
About the lecture
What does it mean to do Islamic Studies within the Study of Religions? Taking the cue from Thomas Tweed’s intervention, this lecture discusses new theoretical and methodological approaches in the Study of Religions and their relevance to researching Islam. Such approaches cross geographical, disciplinary and intellectual boundaries while equally being emplaced in particular socio-cultural contexts which inform their perspectives. In order to overcome statist, normative and essentialist understandings of Islam, the lecture explores three key themes: ambiguity, multi-locality and aesthetics. When we approach the intellectual history of Islam not only its diversity and plurality become obvious but also its culture of ambiguity which is at ease with contradictions and inconsistencies. Recent reflections on diaspora religions de-centre Islamic Studies from the Middle East and allow for exploring the multiple transnational connections between Muslim minority and majority contexts. Such approaches illustrate the multi-locality of Islam. Finally, the lecture explores what it means to approach Islam as an aesthetic formation in which rituals as embodied experiences and material sensory culture more generally are central in forging and articulating Muslim individual and collective identities.