Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Arabic and Religious Studies
Asad Ahmed’s book project is tentatively entitled, “Empire and Periphery: A Social Network Analysis of the Hijazi Elite in the Early Islamic Period.” This work aims to reconstruct the sociopolitical history of the elite of the Hijaz, a province in the Arabian Peninsula, for the entirety of the first and part of the second Islamic dynasty (661-833CE). The work consists of two parts: the first explores the nature of the sources, supplies a basic demographical and geographical mapping of the area and gathers the available fragmentary information on the economic and administrative history of the region. The second part utilizes quantitative and social network analysis methods to explore the social structure and sociopolitical history of the most prominent elite families. Taken together, these two divisions not only constitute a detailed provincial history, but they also bring to light the ways in which the central authorities managed a vast empire in the early history of Islam.
The working title of Angela Miller’s book project is: “Homeless in America: Alternative Modernisms, 1900-1940.” Miller’s point of departure is a 1937 observation by writer and critic Elizabeth McCausland about the sense of homelessness or metaphysical dispossession that paradoxically drove the native search for roots in American modernism of the early 20th century. Miller’s project situates ‘homegrown’ or native modernism in the U.S. in relation to a longer intellectual history that reaches from 19th century literature to ideas about nation, place, space, and identity in the arts of the early twentieth century. Her project will map the expressive, iconographic, and ideological dimensions of native modernism in relation to the very different impulse behind ‘cosmopolitan’ or nomadic modernism. Native and cosmopolitan modernisms turn on strikingly different philosophical, aesthetic, and cultural positions, but both respond to a generalized condition of spiritual displacement that would come to be a defining feature of American culture in the eyes of American and European intellectuals, and more broadly, a central element of modernity itself.
Robert W. Sussman’s project entails the research, writing, and publication of a book entitled “Essays on Race and Culture.” The book will contain two separate but interrelated essays: “The history of race and racism in Western science and society” and “The importance of the concept of culture in anthropology, science, and society.” In these essays, Sussman will trace the history of two views of race (polygenic vs. monogenic) from the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century, to Darwin’s time, and into the early 20th century. He then will show how these two views were instrumental in the development of Social Darwinism, Eugenics, and Nazism on the one hand and to the development of the concept of Culture on the other. He will conclude with a discussion of how modern biology provides evidence that human races do not exist biologically and, therefore, that modern concepts of race have been historically and culturally determined.