Muslims in the Western Imagination – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Muslims in the Western Imagination

Engaged in a semester of research and discourse on conceptions of Muslims in the Western imagination, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Etin Anwar has joined a residency at the Center for Theological Inquiry (CTI). Her project, titled Let’s Pray that They are Not (Violent) Muslims, will be conducted along with 16 scholars from the around the world who have undertaken inquiry into topics in religion and violence.

CTI is based in Princeton, N.J., and tasked with convening leading thinkers from around the world in an interdisciplinary research environment. In 2017, CTI launched a five-year inquiry into the intersection of theology and global issues. Currently engaged in research related to conceptions surrounding religion and violence, CTI has also served as a launch pad for inquiry into religion and migration, and has announced plans to host scholars versed in the study of religion and economic inequality, the built environment and the natural environment.

Anwar’s work Let’s Pray that They Are Not (Violent) Muslims traces the historical and contemporary origins of the “political theology” of preconceived Western notions of Muslims as violent people. Through her survey of these conceptions, Anwar also identifies efforts to resist violence in the name of religion, demonstrates how hegemonic discursive processes have served as a political tool and surveys formative concepts of non-violent Muslims and their engagement in interfaith dialogue.

“Infused with civilizational, geographical, ethnic, racial and sexual divides, the attribution of violence to Muslims—especially in the United States’ public sphere—finds support due to shared attitudes that portray Muslims as being less American, culturally conservative, and as not fitting into the mainstream and through policies in the War on Terror and Muslim travel ban,” Anwar says.

Anwar’s peers at the CTI residency include preeminent scholars from Pacific Theological College, Fiji; Azusa Pacific University, United States; Australian Catholic University, Australia; York St. John University, United Kingdom; University of Chester, United Kingdom; University of Virginia, United States; Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, Finland; Zurich University, Switzerland; Tilburg School of the Humanities and Digital Sciences, Netherlands; Martin Luther University, Germany; and a former ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Updates from the scholars will be able on the CTI blog and podcast through spring of 2019.