CSID Call for Papers
Eighth Annual Conference of the Center for Islam and Democracy
(CSID) will be held on Friday, April 27, 2007 in Washington,
DC. It will focus on ‘The Rights of Women and Minorities
in Islam and Muslim Societies.’
In a message the center has made a call for papers for presentation
at the conference. The message reads:
Muslim-majority societies are broadly perceived in the West
as falling short of adhering to universal human rights standards
when it comes to women and minorities, particularly religious
minorities. Facile explanations are often offered to explain
this phenomenon, among them the supposed immutability of
the Shari’a or the religious law. This conference
aims to explore these critical issues in a more rigorous,
academic manner from a variety of perspectives and to shed
light on commonly held assumptions about the rights of women
and minorities among both Muslims and non-Muslims. Democracy
and civil society after all are rooted in the full equality
of its citizens, regardless of gender and ethnic or religious
background. What are the prospects for achieving such gender
and religious parity for Muslim societies in the near and
long-term future? What trends appear to be the most promising
and what most discouraging?
We must remember, of course, that the term Muslim societies’
covers a broad swath of the world which is internally culturally,
socially, ethnically and, to an extent, religiously diverse.
The eighth annual conference of the Center for the Study
of Islam and Democracy (CSID) will be devoted to exploring
the complexities of this highly important topic today in
the context of democracy and democratization in these diverse
Muslim-majority societies. Paper proposals are invited from
prospective participants on the following five broad topics.
Possible topics are not restricted to the ones that follow
but proposals must establish their relevance in general
to the issues of women’s and minority rights and their
impact upon democratization processes in the Islamic world.
1. How do traditional views on women and gender roles affect
women’s participation in the political and economic
spheres? How are Islamic and Islamicizing discourses being
deployed to empower women in these spheres in some cases
and disenfranchise them in others? What are the various
perspectives (traditionalist, modernist, reformist, absolutist)
on the Sharia and its adaptability to changing circumstances?
What is the Sharia s relationship to fiqh or jurisprudence
and how does it affect the former s applicability?
2. What are the resources within Islamic religious and intellectual
thought and historical practices that may be fore-fronted
today in support of the equality of women and of minorities?
How effective will an indigenous Islamic human rights discourse
be in undermining patterns of discrimination against women
and minorities? How may a universalizing idiom of human
rights be derived from the Islamic tradition(s)? How successful
will a specifically Islamic feminism be?
3. How do cultural practices intersect with religious beliefs
to create a certain hermeneutics of gendered behavior? In
other words, how are existing cultural norms which militate
against women’s equal rights and sense of well-being
given a religious veneer in order to justify their continuation?
How are women lawyers, scholars, and activists challenging
the status quo in some cases and effectively dismantling
discriminatory laws and practices (for example, the recent
repeal of rape laws in Pakistan)?
4. How has the rise of political Islam or Islamism in the
twentieth century affected the rights of women and minorities
in Muslim majority societies? What has been the predominant
view in these movements in the first half of the twentieth
century? How have women activists themselves, like Zaynab
al-Ghazali, influenced the gender dynamics within these
5. How can moderate Islamist movements be harnessed to promote
gender rights and the equality of citizens today? What is
the spectrum of views now current among these groups in
various parts of the Islamic world? What bearing does this
have on the prognosis of future political developments in
Both broad theoretical studies and specific case studies
Paper proposals (no more than 400 words) are due by January
25, 2007 and should be sent to: Prof. Asma Afsaruddin, Chair,
Conference Program Committee, 1625 Massachusetts Avenue,
NW, Suite 601, Washington , D.C. 20036.Tel.: (202) 265-1200.
Fax: (202) 265-1222. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by February
15, 2007 and final papers must be submitted by March 31st,