Faculty Advisory Committee

2018 – 2019 Faculty Advisory Committee

Gil Anidjar, Chair and Professor, Department of Religion

Courtney Bender, Director of Graduate Studies and Professor, Department of Religion

Beth Berkowitz, Professor, Ingeborg Rennert Chair of Jewish Studies, Barnard Department of Religion

Mamadou Diouf, Leitner Professor of African Studies, Chair of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Brinkley Messick, Professor, Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (Committee Chair)

Camille Robcis, Associate Professor of French and Romance Philology and History, Departments of French & Romance Philology and History

Jack Snyder, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Relations, Department of Political Science

Josef Sorett, Associate Professor of Religion and African-American Studies, Department of Religion

Alexander Stille, San Paolo Professor of International Journalism, Columbia Journalism School


Matthew Engelke, Director,

Walid Hammam, Associate

Thresine Nichols, Program Manager,

Marianna Pecoraro, Program and Communications

Zachary Hendrickson, Program and Communications

Eytan Penn, Program and Research

Research Scholars

K. Soraya Batmanghelichi – IRCPL Senior Research Scholar – is a women’s activist, feminist scholar, and Associate Professor for the Study of Modern Iran in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS) at the University of Oslo, Norway. In 2013, she earned a PhD in Iranian Studies from the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at IRCPL in 2016-2017 and is co-organizing IRCPL’s two international conference series on populism and pluralism. Her research focuses on contemporary women’s movements, sexuality, and gendered public space in Iran and the modern Middle East. Her recent publications on sexuality, government morality, cyberfeminism, and women’s activism in Iran can be found in the Journal of Anthropology of the Middle East, Gender and Sexualities within Muslim Cultures, Feminist Media Histories Journal, and the Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World. Bloomsbury Press will publish her manuscript on sexuality and gender in contemporary Iran in late Fall 2018.

Sami Al-Daghistani – IRCPL Research Scholar – has achieved a double-PhD in Islamic Studies (supervision at Leiden University, Columbia University, and WWU Münster). Between 2017-2018 Sami was a Research Fellow at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo and taking part in the research group GreenMENA (Green Middle East and North Africa). He has published numerous articles on the intellectual history of Islamic economics and law, and edited two volumes on the Second Gulf War, and on Middle Eastern culture and politics. Recently, he published two book translations from Arabic to Slovenian – Ibn Baṭṭūta’s Riḥla and Ibn Ṭufayl’s Ḥay ibn Yaqẓān (both 2017). His two monographs on Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s economic philosophy, and on the history of economic tradition in Islam are forthcoming in 2018. Sami’s research and teaching focus on Islamic intellectual history, economic thought in Islamic tradition, legal discourse, Islamization process, and environmental thought. He is currently working on the following projects: Pluralism in Emergencies; Populism in the Middle East and Europe; and Morality, Ecology, and Economic Traditions in Islam.

Mohamed Amer Meziane – Postdoctoral Research Fellow – is a philosopher whose current research projects and teaching activities involve IRCPL, the Department of Religion, and the Institute of African Studies. He is also a research associate at the Sorbonne Institute for Law and Philosophy (ISJPS) and a member of the governing board of the CNRS based Research Network ICC (Islam et chercheurs dans la Cité) in which he holds a seminar series on secularism and public religion. His new research project analyzes the ways in which these imperial transformations are challenged within African spaces. The project questions the boundaries of Africa and the Middle East through the religious, racializing and ecological effects of political geographies. The aim of this project is to try and unfold the contemporary stakes of a systematic critique of these geographies for African theory, from Fanon until today.

Rajbir S. Judge – Postdoctoral Research Fellow – is a historian with affiliations in the Department of Religion and Institute of South Asia. His current project examines the ways in which Sikhism at the end of the 19th Century remained a generative site through which Sikhs and their diverse milieu in the Punjab contested not only British rule, but the very nature of sovereignty, refusing closures enacted by the colonial state. More broadly, he specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of South Asia, with a particular emphasis on the Punjab. His most recent publications can be found in the Journal of the History of Sexuality and History & Theory.

Visiting Scholars

Kenichiro Komori is an Associate Professor at Musashi University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of European Studies (in Tokyo, Japan). He has taught history of European thought, including contemporary issues considered from a global perspective. He wrote books and articles on French and German thinkers, especially Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, and Hannah Arendt. He also translated books by Derrida, Drucilla Cornell, and Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (from French or English into Japanese). His current research focuses on the relationship between philosophy and American society, and he conducts historical, philosophical and literary investigation into political and religious problematics from medieval south-east France to today’s New York.

Raphaël Liogier is a sociologist (specializing in belief systems, sociology of religion, shifts in values resulting from globalization, and the impact of the internet) and philosopher (theory of knowledge, ethics and new technologies, transhumanism). He is currently a tenured professor at Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence in France (Aix-Marseille University), researcher at Sophiapol (Paris-Nanterre University), and was elected in 2014 to the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris. He was director of World Religion Watch (Observatoire du religieux) from 2006 to 2014, and was the first expert consulted by the French parliament following the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015. He is a member of UNESCO’s International Commission for Peace Research. He is also the author of over 100 scholarly articles and twenty one books.

Carol Marie Webster is an artist | activist | scholar whose research focuses on ‘the body’. She works at intersections
of ‘race’/ethnicity, gender, migration, and religion in examination of African Diaspora/Black Atlantic performance and
performative articulations of identity and belonging, examining the influence of cultural and social practices on the
health and well-being of ‘the body’ (individual, community, and social). She draws on critical ethnography, womanist methodologies and analyses, and performance studies approaches in conventional research, performance-as-
research, and community engagement initiatives. Her recent article “Body as Temple: Jamaican Catholic Women and the Liturgy of the Eucharist” was published in African Theology: An International Journal (Jan 2017). She was a
Visiting Researcher at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, South
Carolina (2015 – 2016). She was an awardee of an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Cultural
Engagement Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK (2013-2014), where, under the mentorship of Professor Axel
Kuhn (Physics), she conceived and led her third arts and science interdisciplinary performance research initiative,
‘Transportation Transformation: Migration, Teleportation, and Railways’, examining identity-making and historical
belonging at the convergence of migration, science and technology, and culture. She holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies from the University of Leeds (2013) in the United Kingdom and Master degrees in Religious Studies (2005) and in Cultures and Development Studies (2005) from the Katholieke Universitiet Leuven in Belgium.

Research Fellows

The IRCPL Summer Research Fellowship is awarded each Spring to assist students with expenses directly related to research, including travel, lodging, and materials during the Summer or Fall semester. Upon returning from their travel, students will issue reports on the results of their research. Information on how to apply for an IRCPL Fellowship can be found on our website.

Nile Davies is a PhD candidate in Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology. His dissertation examines the historical conjunctions of labor, settlement and the built environment in the Western Area of Sierra Leone, where centuries of successive arrivals have produced powerful ideological associations between place, space and categories of personhood (“creoles”, “natives”, “strangers”). Charting the vexed status of the city through its material and economic disparities, his ethnographic work considers the politics and affects of building and dwelling in post-conflict Freetown. He asks how social value and inequality might be rendered in our bodies and the relationships to the landscapes we build. How have violent discrepancies within communities reflected the strained connections between ends and means? The IRCPL Fellowship will support ethnographic and archival research in Freetown, Sierra Leone, London and Oxford, England.

Devon Golaszewski is a sixth-year doctoral student in African history at Columbia University, and a candidate for the Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the Institute for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research focuses on the history of gender and sexuality, and the history of medicine, in 20th century francophone West Africa. Her dissertation, entitled “Reproductive Labors: Reproductive Expertise and Biomedical Legibility in Mali, 1935-1999,” examines the intertwined and competing practices by which Malian families sought to ensure successful conception, pregnancy and childbirth in the context of high maternal and infant mortality. It traces simultaneously the development of biomedical maternal and reproductive health programs and the changing interventions of local specialists such as a birth attendants and nuptial counselors.

Owain Lawson is a PhD candidate in Columbia University’s Department of History. His research examines the history of technology, society, religion, political economy, and environment in the twentieth-century Middle East. He is senior editor of Arab Studies Journal and website editor for the Lebanese Studies Association. He is writing a dissertation that explores the history of the development of the Litani river in Lebanon between 1920 and 1978. The IRCPL Research Fellowship will support archival research in Paris and Nantes, France, in summer 2019.

Zehra Mehdi is a Ph.D. student at Columbia University’s Department of Religion, where she studies psychoanalysis, gender theory and religious and political identity of Muslims in India. She is broadly interested in the role of religion in the discourse of nationalism in India, history and memory, gender subjectivity, and subaltern narratives of resistance. Her dissertation is a psychoanalytic study of Muslims in India where she explores how Muslims resist seeing themselves as victims and forge their identity as Indians through the complex and delicate interplay of gender and religion. The IRCPL Fellowship will support archival research of Hindi and Urdu print media in north India to explore how the political rhetoric of Hindu religious nationalism produces specific images of Muslim men and women that inform the construction of Muslims as enemies of the nation.

Anna Reumert is a PhD student in Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology, where she focuses on the history and social life of Sudanese migration to Lebanon. She is broadly interested in relations of difference and religious identity as it pertains to histories of labor, migration and racialization in the postcolonial and post-Ottoman slavery context of the Arab Mediterranean. For her dissertation, she conducts fieldwork with a multi-faith Sudanese migrant community in Beirut. The IRCPL Fellowship will support the early stages of this research, to begin summer 2019.

Shaunna Rodrigues is a PhD student in Columbia University’s Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies. Her broad research interests include minority rights and democracy in post-colonial nations, Islamic praxis and justificatory discourse in modern South Asia, conjunctures between Muslim and Dalit political discourse in modern South Asia,  anti-imperial political formations and thought, and iterations of Islamic law and political thought across the Indian Ocean. Her Ph.D. dissertation traces Islamic justifications of the Indian Constitution primarily through the work of Abul Kalam Azad and his interlocutors. The IRCPL Fellowship will support her research on tracing practices of justification against liberal imperialism undertaken by Islamic scholars like Azad. Focussing on Azad’s political life as a ‘jihadist’, interacting with various Muslim and non-Muslim critics of the empire within an Islamic world extending from Burma to Cairo, it will study how Azad used the concept of jihad, both in praxis and theory, to build an anti-imperial politics and a plural political conception for democratic India.