Conference Bonanza

Conference season has begun, and there is an unusually high number of jihad-related academic meetings taking place this autumn. To give you an idea of what people in our field are working on at the moment, I figured I should give you an overview of the main ones that have come to my attention.

3-6 September: The American Political Science Association Annual Meeting began yesterday in Toronto and will go on all weekend. There are a number of panels and papers on jihadism and Islamism; just search for jihad or Islam in the online program.

4-6 September: This weekend there is also a three-day conference on “Islamic Resurgence in the Age of Globalization:Myth, Memory, Emotion” in Trondheim, Norway. The conference is co-sponsored by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Haifa University (Israel), and Aarhus University (Denmark). I was supposed to be there, but I had to cancel in the last minute for personal reasons. It is a shame, for I was looking forward to meeting the many great scholars in the program, especially Dale Eickelman, Itzchak Weismann and Reuven Paz, whose work I deeply respect.

7-9 September: Early next week the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World at the University of Edinburgh is hosting a conference on “Rethinking Jihad”. The program looks terrific, not least because it includes both prominent scholars and leading Islamist activists.

9 September: The Counterterrorism Center at West Point is organizing a conference in Washington DC next Wednesday on “Al-Qaida: Context and competition”. It should be fantastic – the list of presenters speaks for itself.

30 September-2 October: While not directly jihad-related, the upcoming conference in Brussels on Sunni-Shia contemporary relations is worth noting because of its very impressive line-up of speakers, including Laurence Louer, Reidar Visser, Thomas Pierret, Stephane Lacroix, Stephane Dudoignon and many others – basically the cream of the crop of young European scholars of the Middle East.

12-14 November: Princeton University and Sciences-Po Paris will be organizing a workshop in Princeton on “The State of Saudi Arabia”. It will feature many of the world’s leading experts on Saudi politics and there will be panels on Saudi jihadism and Islamism.

21-24 November:  Finally there is of course the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, to be held this year in Boston. By searching the program for “jihad” and related keywords you should find some interesting papers.

Keep in mind that this overview does not give you the full picture of the academic activity in our field. There are bound to be conferences that I don’t know about or that I forgot about. Moreover, I know of at least three extremely interesting workshops taking place this autumn that are not publicised, in most cases because there is a government sponsor.

Unfortunately I won’t be attending any of the above conferences except the Saudi one in Princeton in November. But I will be waiting impatiently to read the many publications that will no doubt come out of them.

By the way, if anybody knows of any other relevant conferences or workshops, please mention them in the comments.

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