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Lecture | LUCIS What's New?! Series

Imagining the Unimaginable: Finding the Islamic in Muslim Futures

Thursday 29 February 2024
What's New?! Spring Lecture Series 2024
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

This talk explores the meaning and purpose behind the idea of the Islamic in the emerging aesthetic Muslim Futures/Futurism movement. There is a global trend on the rise encompassing young Muslims creating a plethora of artworks and authoring pieces in which they postulate a wide range of ethical dilemmas, ranging from systemic oppression, unequal wealth distribution and neo-imperialism, to global public health and the consequences of climate change. These artists and authors are taking the lead in imagining and articulating alternative visions of the future which showcases their creative solutions or display their warnings for the continuous transgression of ethical boundaries. Most work written on the emergence of Muslim Futures/Futurism does not approach the field from the perspective of (integrative and interdisciplinary) Islamic thought, discussing it mainly from the frameworks of anthropology or literature alone. These have yielded useful insights - however, not bringing Islamic thought into the fold of explicating a so-called Muslim movement raises analytical concerns. In this lecture, we ask the question of what precisely does the Muslim prefix encapsulate in the idea of Muslim futures/futurism? If Muslims are the starting point in and out of themselves, what precisely is the role of Islam – the supposed connecting factor amongst these diverse actors? What is precisely Islamic about alternative Muslim futures, and how does the Islamic influence the ways in which Muslims imagine what they imagine? 

Sara Bolghiran

Sara Bolghiran is a PhD Candidate in Islamic Studies at the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion and Society, and a Research Associate at the Leiden Delft Erasmus Centre for the Governance of Migration and Diversity. Starting from fall 2024, Sara will also be a Visiting Researcher at Oxford University's Department of International Development. Prior to joining LUCSOR, Sara has been a Visiting Researcher at Yale University's Department of of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and is part of a Working Group on Decoloniality in Europe at Yale's Macmillan Center.The overall theme of Sara's research pertains to meaning-making, subjectivity, and ultimately the theorizition of Islam through non-dogmatic and non-scriptural means. To that end, she is  interested in the ways in which young diasporic Muslims in the West are rethinking Islam and engaging spiritually through aesthetics, philosophy, Sufism, and poetry, and art and how they use these matters to create ethical socio-ethical imaginaries of their future. Tied into this, she is looking into how much this in indebted to turath, Islamic traditions of knowledge production and meaning-making in order to see/make sense of how what was inhabits what is, and to what can become.

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