Scholar of Islam to discuss religion’s role in civil society

Connecticut College will host historian Mark Sedgwick for a talk titled “From the headscarf crisis to the cartoon crisis: Islam, globalization and Europe,” on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 4:30 p.m. in the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room of Charles E. Shain Library.

Sedgwick is a professor of Arab and Islamic studies at Aarhus University in Denmark, where he heads a program focused on globalized and transnational Islam. In his talk, he will discuss the growth of Muslim populations in Europe and the U.S. and how that growth impacts contemporary Islamic trends, like jihadism and progressive theology, as well as the domestic politics of the Western nations. Sedgwick will examine recent global developments and possible future scenarios.

“Muslim populations are growing fast in the West. We need to understand who our newest neighbors are,” said Associate Professor of Religious Studies Sufia Uddin. “Thirty-one states in the U.S. have banned or restricted the use of sharia law. Do the legislators who voted for these bans even understand what sharia is or how it works or who it impacts? Globalization is changing the way we live, but also bringing many cultures together in public space. How will we interact in these spaces? These questions are pertinent to advocating for policies that are guided by our democratic principles, not ignorance.”

Before moving to Denmark, Sedgwick taught for 20 years at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He now concentrates on modern Islam, especially on transnational phenomena from Sufism to terrorism. His most recent book is a biography of the great Egyptian modernist Muhammad Abduh, and his most recent article is on neo-nationalism and anti-Isamic activism in Denmark.

The talk is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Global Islamic Studies Faculty Working Group at Connecticut College.

September 26, 2013