Tobunken-Seminar“UNC-Chapel Hill at Tobunken: Mini-Lectures by Carl W. Ernst and Cemil Aydin”

Date:May 24 (Wed) 13:45-14:45

Venue:Room 304, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo

Lecture 1:
Cemil Aydin, Imagining the Muslim World: Geopolitics, Race and Religion

Lecture 2:
Carl W. Ernst, Mysticism and Community in the Arabic Poems of al-Hallaj

Cemil Aydin (Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) teaches courses on global history and Asian history. His publications include the Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia (Columbia University Press, 2007), and The Idea of the Muslim World: A Global Intellectual History (Harvard University Press, 2017 Spring).

Lecture Abstract:
Since when has the geopolitical idea of the Muslim World become important for international politics? How can we understand the continuities and changes in the political utilization of the assumption that all the Muslims constitute a political unity? This short presentation will discuss how the idea of the Muslim world was inflected from the start by theories of white supremacy, Muslim intellectuals played an important role in envisioning and essentializing an idealized pan-Islamic society that refuted claims of Muslims’ racial and civilizational inferiority. It will then briefly summarize how this idea had been used in global geopolitics from WWI and WWII to Cold war and its aftermath.


Carl W. Ernst (William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies; Co-Director, Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is a specialist in Islamic studies, Sufism, and Indo-Muslim culture. His recent publications include Refractions of Islam in India (2016), Islamophobia in America (2013), How to Read the Qur\’an (2011), and Rethinking Islamic Studies (co-edited with Richard Martin, 2010).

Lecture Abstract:
My recently completed translation of 117 Arabic poems attributed to the Sufi martyr al-Hallaj (d. 922) will be the first comprehensive English translation of his poetry. The introduction offers a new interpretation of the role of Arabic poetry in early Sufism, as well as the singular role of French Orientalist Louis Massignon in reconstructing the life and works of Hallaj. My remarks on this occasion will focus on the theme of community that is powerfully displayed in the poems of Hallaj, and the need to revise the individualistic concept of “mysticism” that is generally applied to the Sufi tradition.