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We are eager to welcome our participants to campus in April.

Sahar Aziz

Prof. Aziz is Professor of Law, Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar, and Middle East and Legal Studies Scholar at Rutgers University Law School. Prof. Aziz’s scholarship examines the intersections of national security, race, and civil rights with a focus on the adverse impact of national security laws and policies on racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in the U.S. Her research also investigates the relationship between authoritarianism, terrorism, and rule of law in Egypt.

She is the founding director of the interdisciplinary Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights. She is also a faculty affiliate of the African American Studies Department at Rutgers University-Newark and an editor for the Arab Law Quarterly. Professor Aziz teaches courses on national security, critical race theory, evidence, torts, and Middle East law.

In 2015, Professor Aziz was named an Emerging Scholar by Diverse Issues in Higher Education and recipient of the Derrick Bell Award from the American Association of Law Schools Minority Section. In 2017, she was selected as the recipient of the Research Making an Impact Award by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). Prior to joining legal academia, Professor Aziz served as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security where she worked on law and policy at the intersection of national security and civil liberties.

Louise Cainkar

Louise Cainkar is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social and Cultural Studies at Marquette University. Her research focuses on race, gender, policy, and power and their impacts on Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and immigrants.

Her award-winning book, Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience after 9/11 (2009, Russell Sage Foundation) draws upon analyses of national security policies and historic stereotyping to contextualize the findings of her field research and ethnographic interviews with Arab and Muslim Americans after 9/11. In 2004 Cainkar won a Carnegie Scholar Award to study the reinvigoration of Islamic practices among second generation Muslim Americans. She won the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding’s (ISPU) first Scholar Award in 2010, as well as an award from the Mayor of Chicago for civic activism. Other research includes a comparative study of second generation Arab Americans raised transnationally in Jordan, Yemen, and Palestine. Her recent scholarly publications include examinations of the racialization of Islam; the historic and current construction of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians as terror threats; Islamophobia and white supremacy; and gender policing of Muslim women.

Caleb Elfenbein

Prof. Elfenbein is an Associate Professor of History and Religious Studies at Grinnell College, where he directs the Center for the Humanities. He studies how people in different times and places think about human welfare. He considers the questions: What does well-being mean? What sources do people use to answer this question? In the
context of community, who gets to participate in discussions or debates about the values and goals guiding collective life?

He has examined these questions in the context of modern colonial and postcolonial Muslim communities. Prof. Elfenbein’s work in this area has appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, and The Muslim World, among other venues.

Prof. Elfenbein also studies these subjects within the context of the United States. He is especially interested in how anti-Muslim hostility affects the nature of Muslim participation in public life and debates about the common good. His current project is Mapping Islamophobia, an on-line digital humanities tool presenting interactive, visualized data on Islamophobic incidents and their effects on the participation of American Muslims in public life.

Anver Emon

Anver Emon teaches law and history at the University of Toronto, where he is the Canada Research Chair in Religion, Pluralism and the Rule of Law, and the director of the Institute of Islamic Studies. In the Faculty of Law, he has taught torts, constitutional law, racial politics and the law, legal ethics, and statutory interpretation. In history, he teaches in the field of Islamic legal history, law and religion, and historical epistemology in Islamic studies.

As Director of the Institute, he oversees a collaborative research program on the study of Islam and Muslims in Canada. Working with colleagues from 6 Canadian universities and 5 community-based national organizations, he oversees projects that intersect with CVE and the securitization of Muslim-Canadian life.

Emon was named as a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow in the field of law and awarded the 2017 Kitty Newman Memorial Award in Philosophy from the Royal Society of Canada. He is the author of Islamic Natural Law Theories (Oxford, 2010), and Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law: Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law (Oxford, 2012), as well as the co-editor of Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law: Searching for Common Ground? (Oxford, 2012) and The Oxford Handbook on Islamic Law (Oxford 2018).

Leila Fadel

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Las Vegas, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.

Most recently, she was NPR’s international correspondent based in Cairo and covered the wave of revolts in the Middle East and their aftermaths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and beyond. Her stories brought us to the heart of a state-ordered massacre of pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo in 2013 when police shot into crowds of people to clear them and killed between 1,000 and 2,000 people. She told us the tales of a coup in Egypt and what it is like for a country to go through a military overthrow of an elected government. She covered the fall of Mosul to ISIS in 2014 and documented the harrowing tales of the Yazidi women who were kidnapped and enslaved by the group. Her coverage also included stories of human smugglers in Egypt and the Syrian families desperate and willing to pay to risk their lives and cross a turbulent ocean for Europe.

Before joining NPR, she covered the Middle East for The Washington Post as the Cairo Bureau Chief. Prior to her position as Cairo Bureau Chief for the Post, she covered the Iraq war for nearly five years with Knight Ridder, McClatchy Newspapers, and later the Washington Post. Her foreign coverage of the devastating human toll of the Iraq war earned her the George. R. Polk award in 2007. In 2016 she was the Council on Foreign Relations Edward R. Murrow fellow.

Megan Goodwin

Megan Goodwin is a scholar of gender, sexuality, race, and contemporary American minority religions. She is currently a visiting lecturer of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern University. Dr. Goodwin is also the program director of Sacred Writes, a project which aims to provide support, resources, and networks for scholars of religion committed to translating the significance of their research to a broader audience.  

Her current book project, Women and Children Last: Sex, Abuse, and American Minority Religions, explores the coding of religious difference as sexual danger. Her next project considers the ways contemporary American whiteness is (or feels) threatened by Muslims and Islam. Goodwin is the co-chair of the American Academy of Religion’s New Religious Movements Program Unit and a former co-editor of Religion Compass‘s Religions in the Americas section. She is also a member of the American Academy of Religion, the National Women’s Studies Association, and the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies.

Katherine Hoffman

Katherine E. Hoffman is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University, where she directs the Middle East and North African Studies Program. She teaches and researches in linguistic anthropology and legal anthropology, focusing primarily on North Africa and its diasporas in francophone Europe. Her research has focused on ethnolinguistic minorities (especially Amazigh/Berber populations) in Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. She is broadly interested in contexts and moments of encounter between dominant and indigenous groups, state / Islamic law and customary law, and the transnational movement of Islamic legal institutions around child and family law. Her work spans the historical period from the 19th c. French arrival in North Africa to the present day, and the ways in which legal and linguistic practices both capture ambivalences in the relationship between the former French colonizer and the formerly colonized, and between post-Independence states and their internal minority populations.

Hoffman is the author of We Share Walls: Language, Land, and Gender in Berber Morocco (Blackwell/Wiley 2008) and co-editor (with Susan Gilson Miller) of Berbers and Others: Beyond Tribe and Nation in the Maghrib (Indiana University Press 2010).

Ahmed Ibrahim

Ahmed Ibrahim is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton College. His research lays at the intersection of refugee and migration studies and the anthropology of religion.

His current research project is an ethnography of Somali communities in Minnesota. The research aims to challenge the assumed congruence between nation and political space by examining how social and political movements in Somalia both influence Somali political organizing in the US and effect how Somali communities are administered under the US security state. The project examines sites as diverse as US government supported programs to “counter violent extremism,” local Somali civic activism in the US, and political campaigns that span from Minneapolis to Mogadishu.

His most recent project, “The Shari῾a Courts of Mogadishu: Beyond ‘African Islam’ and ‘Islamic Law’,” explored the ethics and politics of Shari῾a in Mogadishu, Somalia, through a historical ethnography of a movement whose response to the demands of the present were informed by practices, discourses, and norms rooted in a centuries-old Islamic tradition. His upcoming article is entitled “Changing of the Guards: Politico-Religious Authority and Islamic Education in Mogadishu,” and will appear in the journal Islamic Africa.

Suad Joseph

Suad Joseph is Distinguished Research Professor of Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at University of California, Davis. She is founder and director of the University of California Arab Region Consortium (UCDAR), a consortium of 5 universities from Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and the United Arab Emirates with UC Davis which supports collaborative research among the faculty.   She studies the interface of gender, family and state in the Middle East, with a focus on Lebanon. Central to this research program has been her work theorizing culturally situated notions of “self”, “rights”, “citizenship” in the context of different political regimes and in the context of the pressures and processes of globalization.

Prof. Joseph is working on a long-term research project following a cohort of children in a Lebanese village, observing, as they grow, how they learn their notions of rights, responsibilities, nationality, citizenship; how these notions come to be gendered; and how the notions are transferred from family arenas into political/public arenas. Her current research also includes the Transforming Refugee Mental Health project, Mapping the Production of Knowledge on Women in the Arab Region project; and the Gendering STEM Education project – all with UCDAR. She has a long-term project analyzing the representation of Muslims, Arabs, Islam, Arab and Muslim Americans in the New York Times from 1850 to the present. She is the founding and current General Editor of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures.

Prof. Joseph founded the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies, the Arab Families Working Group, the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program (UC Davis), and MERGA which became the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. She is co-founder and founding president of the Arab American Studies Association, co-founder of the Association for Middle East Anthropology, and co-founded the Feminist Research Institute (UC Davis). She has edited or co-edited 10 books, and published over 100 articles and has been a faculty member at the University of California, Davis since 1976. She was awarded the UC Davis Prize – the largest undergraduate teaching and research prize in the United States.

Ramzi Kassem

Ramzi Kassem is a professor of law at the City University of New York, where he co-directs the Immigrant and Non-Citizen’s Rights Clinic and supervises the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility project. Both projects work to ensure that marginalized communities receive fair legal representation and defense against abuses of law enforcement, particularly in connection with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), unfair detainment, and counterterrorism policies.

In addition, Professor Kassem represents prisoners of various nationalities presently or formerly held at American facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, at so-called “Black Sites,” and at other detention sites worldwide. In connection with these cases, Professor Kassem and his students have appeared as party counsel and submitted merits briefs before U.S. federal district and appellate courts, before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as before the military commissions at Guantánamo.

Amber Khan

Amber Khan is the executive producer and host for Interfaith Voices, an award-winning public radio program that airs on 91 public and community radio stations around the country.

On May 1st the radio show and podcast is changing its name to Inspired: exploring the beliefs shaping our world.  Khan’s editorial goal is to deepen coverage of communities under-represented in the current media landscape, offering both context and nuance that is often missing in breaking headlines.  From locally produced features amplifying the lived experience of people of faith and goodwill to conversations with thought leaders and public scholars, the weekly show harnesses the intimacy of audio to allow listeners a way to explore one of the most divisive topics in our public discourse: religious beliefs and their influence in our lives.  Featuring different points of view and perspectives, the goal of each show is to increase understanding about about a topic that brings out the nuances and context that is often missing from the minimal coverage of faith and beliefs in mainstream media.

Her reporting is informed by two decades of work as a grassroots organizer, policy advocate and strategic communications adviser to public interest groups, private foundations and faith-based coalitions. Amber has been a frequent featured speaker and commentator at national and global fora on women’s rights, religious freedom, civil rights and the intersection of faith and politics.  Khan is graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and resides with her family in the Washington, DC suburbs.

Aysha Khan

Aysha Khan is journalist based in Boston. She is a reporter at the Religion News Service, a non-profit wire service, where she covers U.S. Muslim communities and millennial faith. Her work focuses on digital culture, religion and underrepresented communities—particularly Muslims in America. She is currently the social media editor at the Religion News Service, where she reports on Muslim issues. She has previously worked with ThinkProgress, American Journalism Review, the Journalism Center on Children and Families, and The Tempest, where she spent nearly two years editing culture stories and launching the tech vertical.

Her reporting has been published in The Washington Post, USA Today, NBC News, Religion News Service, ThinkProgress, VICE News, American Journalism Review, Religion & Politics magazine, Sojourners and other publications.

Recently, she was named a 2018 emerging journalist fellow with the Journalism & Women Symposium and served as a judge for the prestigious Goldziher Prize for journalists covering Muslims in America. Her work has been honored by the Religion News Association and South Asian Journalists Association

Darryl Li

Darryl Li studies the intersection of war, law, migration, empire, and race with a focus on transregional linkages between the Middle East, South Asia, and the Balkans. He teaches at the University of Chicago. He has participated in litigation arising from the “War on Terror” as party counsel, amicus, or expert witness, including in Guantánamo habeas, Alien Tort, material support, denaturalization, immigration detention, and asylum proceedings.

Li has a forthcoming book from Stanford University Press, which develops an ethnographic approach to the comparative study of universalism using the example of transnational “jihadists”—specifically, Arabs and other foreigners who fought in the 1992-95 war in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Wendell Marsh

Wendell Marsh is Assistant Professor of African American and African Studies at Rutgers University-Newark and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Buffet Institute for Global Studies. He conducts research and teaches on the encounter of Islam and the African world as mediated in Arabic and vernacular texts. Overall, his work seeks to historicize the formation of an African Islamic modernity that has emerged from the negotiation of local and global traditions of Islam in the wake of slavery and colonialism.

Asraa Mustufa

Asraa Mustufa is digital editor at The Chicago Reporter, an investigative news organization focused on race, poverty and income inequality. She was recently named a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News’ 2019 Emerging Leaders Council. In 2018, Asraa was also selected for Poynter and the National Association of Black Journalists’ Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media. A Chicago transplant by way of New Jersey, Asraa has worked with various community organizations in the Chicago area, and has written and reported on surveillance, national security, immigration, criminal justice, and policing for She studied journalism, political science, and south Asian studies at Rutgers University. For her honors senior thesis, Asraa conducted a comparative content analysis of news media framing of the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.

Nadine Naber

Nadine Naber is professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Global Asian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. At UIC, she is the founding director of the Arab American Cultural Center and the co-principal investigator of the Diaspora Cluster. Before coming to UIC, Prof. Naber was at University of Michigan, where she co-founded the Arab and Muslim American Studies program.

Naber’s research theorizes the gendered-racialization of Arab and Muslim Americans within the contexts of empire and diaspora and women and LGBTQ activism in Arab and diasporic Arab communities. She is the author of Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism (NYU Press, 2012); co-editor of the books Race and Arab Americans (Syracuse University Press, 2008); Arab and Arab American Feminisms, winner of the Arab American Book Award 2012 (Syracuse University Press, 2010); and The Color of Violence (South End Press, 2006). She is a board member of the Journal of Palestine Studies and the Palestine Policy Network, Al Shabaka.

Nicole Nguyen

Nicole Nguyen is an assistant professor of social foundations of education at University of Illinois at Chicago. Immersed in political geography, critical education studies, and critical sociology, Nguyen’s research ethnographically investigates the intersections of national security, war, and US public schooling. She teaches classes on the criminalization of youth in urban schools, school militarization, and the sociology of education. 

Nguyen is the author of A Curriculum of Fear: Homeland Security in U.S. Public Schools, which examines Milton High School’s specialized Homeland Security program—what it means to students and staff and what it says about the militarization of public schools. The first ethnography of such a program, it provides a close encounter with the new normal imposed by the global war on terror.

Monique Parsons

Monique Parsons is an independent radio producer and freelance reporter who specializes in writing about religion. Her award-winning radio documentary, An American Mosque, aired on WBEZ Chicago and on 80 stations nationwide via the podcast Interfaith Voices. Produced in collaboration with editors Deborah George and Cate Cahan and sound designer/producer Derek John, the documentary was honored with a Wilbur Award from The Religion Communicators Council. The story follows one community’s 10-year quest to build a quintessentially American mosque in the suburbs of Chicago.

Monique’s stories about religion in America have aired on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Day to Day, as well as on WBEZ (Chicago Public Radio). She’s written on topics including religion in Hollywood, Orthodox Jewish drug and alcohol counseling, Catholic education, Muslim philanthropy and Muslim youth culture. A former newspaper reporter, she’s contributed to Religion News Service and, and she’s worked on the staff of newspapers in California and New Jersey. She received a 2011 Ford Foundation Knight Fellowship for Reporting on Religion in American Public Life for her work relating to Islam in America. Her religion reporting has been honored by the Religion News Association and by the Garden State Association of Black Journalists. Monique earned an A.B. in religion from Princeton University, a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and a master of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School.

Layla Quran

Layla Quran is a journalist and producer with the PBS Newshour in Washington, DC, where she works on the Foreign Affairs and Defense unit. She produces day-of/breaking news pieces and longer form stories focusing on the Middle East. She most recently published a months-long investigation on Saudi Arabia’s surveillance of its students in the United States.

She has also worked on long-form research projects in Israel/Palestine, Turkey and Jordan – where she focused on migrant domestic workers and their resistance tactics. Before joining the PBS Newshour, Layla worked for Al Jazeera English’s United Nations bureau, WNYC NY Public Radio, and the Associated Press Bureau in Amman, Jordan. Layla is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Near Eastern studies MA program at New York University’s Kevorkian Center. She is fluent in Arabic.

Alex Ruppenthal

Alex Ruppenthal is a journalist based in Chicago, IL who covers a variety of issues related to city, police, and grassroots politics. In 2016 he broke a story picked up nationally by the Associated Press and NPR concerning a police officer’s Facebook post inciting violence against Muslims, ultimately prompting that officer’s suspension and a city-led diversity workshop. He has since published stories that critically examine counter-extremism initiatives in Illinois and the current administration’s attempt to transform CVE initiatives in order to target Muslim communities.

Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem

Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem is an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University and the director of the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa.

Salem specializes in Islam and Muslim Politics in Africa in comparative perspective. His research engages contemporary academic debates regarding religion and politics, especially the interplay in contemporary African societies of a variety of issues such as the state, religious authority, race, social hierarchies, identity politics, Islamic knowledge, and political power. Ahmed Salem’s secondary research interests include everyday negotiations over citizenship, bureaucratization and the institutionalization of the state in Africa.

He is the author of Prêcher dans le Desert: Islam, Politique et Changement Social en Mauritanie (with an English translation, Preaching in the Desert: Islam, Politics and Social Change in Mauritania, forthcoming) and the editor of Trajectoires d’un Etat-Frontière. Espaces, Evolutions Politiqiues et Transformations Sociales en Mauritanie.

Noah Salomon

Noah Salomon is Associate Professor of Religion and Director of Middle East Studies at Carleton College, where he teaches courses in Islamic Studies and the anthropology of religion. His first book, For Love of the Prophet: An Ethnography of Sudan’s Islamic State (Princeton University Press, 2016), translates more than three years of fieldwork in Sudan into a monograph that examines the country’s unique experiment with an Islamic political order. The book received the 2017 Albert Hourani Prize from the Middle East Studies Association and the 2017 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion from the American Academy of Religion.  Subsequent research has focused on the establishment of state secularism in the new nation of South Sudan as a mode of unraveling the Islamic state and the concomitant construction of a Muslim minority as part of a nascent project of nation-building.  Salomon is a 2018 recipient of a three-year New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for which he will be exploring local and transnational initiatives in Islamic unity, as well as attendant mechanisms for negotiating difference, across several sites in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Salomon has been part of recent collaborative grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (on Islamic epistemologies in Africa) and the Islam Research Programme, Netherlands (on religious minorities in the two Sudans following partition) and was a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in the School of Social Science for the 2013–14 academic year.

Ariel Schwartz

Ariel Schwartz is a scholar of religion, politics, and violence; she is especially interested in the effects of hate crimes and micro-aggressions – as well as the legal management of these forms of violence – on religious minority communities and upon the concept and practice of religious pluralism. Her current book project, In the Wake of Hate, examines the impact of hate crimes on religious minorities in the United States. She employs multi-sited ethnographic and archival research to analyze the ways in which religious communities grapple with the arsons of their places of worship and narrate the processes of reconstruction. By focusing on phenomenological experiences of violence, emotional geographies, and the formation of collective narrative and communal identity, she articulates people’s lived experiences of hate crimes and explores how bias-motivated violence can shape religious practices and political participation. Ariel holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and a certification in Religion and Global Politics from Northwestern University. She currently works at the Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs.