Critical Muslim Studies, Cape Town:

Decolonial Struggles and Liberation Theologies

Hosted By Religion Studies Department, University of Johannesburg
January 14 - 20 (7 Days)
Application Deadline: August 31st, 2017

Introduction

Critical Muslim Studies (CMS) is inspired by a need to open up a space for intellectually rigorous and socially committed explorations between decolonial thinking and studies of Muslims, Islam and the Islamicate. CMS does not regards Islam only as a religio-spiritual tradition, or a civilization, but also as a possibility for a decolonial epistemic perspective that suggests contributions and responses to the problems facing humankind today. CMS is part of a global intellectual network which offers an opportunity to interpret and understand Muslim phenomena in ways that does not reproduce Eurocentrism, Islamophobia or takfiri exclusivism.

The Cape Town CMS Summer School, like its Granada Summer School associate, situates the narrative of modernity/coloniality, Muslims and the Islamicate as one tied to the fall of Al-Andalus in 1492 CE and the expansion of Europe over the non-European world more broadly. This moment is important in the rise of the West over the Rest, and is integral for understanding how the decentering of the Islamicate world system from West Africa to East Asia, and across the Mediterranean and Indian oceans, took place.

The location of Southern Africa, and specifically Cape Town is a crucial node in this narrative. The presence of European settler-colonialism and slavery in the Western Cape dates back to at least the 17th century, interlocating Muslim bodies (as well as other “non-Muslim”, and “non-European” bodies) from South and East Africa, as well as South and Southeast Asia into a new matrix of power, knowledge and being.

The presence of Muslims in Cape Town, and South Africa more broadly, is also unique in that it was not only one of submission and enslavement to European conquerors but one of active and creative resistance. The first urban uprising in all of South Africa took place in the “Malay” Muslim quarter of Cape Town in the 1880s against Dutch colonial police, and a number of Muslim individuals and organizations played key roles in the anti-apartheid struggle. South Africa has also recently become a major center for implementing the broader calls of decoloniality as massive Black-led student social movements in 2015 and 2016 have been engaged in decolonizing knowledge, power and being.

The presence of Muslims in Cape Town, and South Africa more broadly, is also unique in that it was not only one of submission and enslavement to European conquerors but one of active and creative resistance as well. The first urban uprising in all of South Africa took place in the “Malay” Muslim quarter of Cape Town in the 1880s against Dutch colonial police, and a number of Muslim individuals and organizations played key roles in the anti-apartheid struggle. South Africa has also recently become a major center for implementing the broader calls of decoloniality as massive Black-led student social movements in 2015 and 2016 have been engaged in decolonizing knowledge, power and being.
The Cape Town Summer School is an attempt to situate the conversations on Islam and Decoloniality more firmly in the Global South. While the program is inspired by the Granada Summer School and other affiliates, Cape Town Summer School differs in that the majority of the faculty are either from and/or teach in the Global South. The Cape Town Summer School will also engage with forms of praxis among the South African Muslim community, by way of example, and also to integrate issues of gender, sexuality, race and diversity more centrally within decolonial Muslim discourse.

The Cape Town Summer School sees itself as complementing the Granada Summer School due to the ways in which geography and economy delimit many from the South from participating in Critical Muslim Studies. While we recognize that there is indeed a “South” in the “North” as well as a “North” in the “South” there is nonetheless an urgent need to shift geographies of reason physically to the South, and much benefit to centering the lived experiences of those from the South in our summer school’s make-up, pedagogy and participation

In being hosted by the University of Johannesburg’s Religion Studies Department, the Cape Town Summer School hopes to establish itself alongside Granada as a premier site for Critical Muslim Studies. The school welcomes participation from Muslim and non-Muslim heritages and associations, yet, and is open to South Africans and international participants from outside South Africa. This year’s instructors include internationally recognized scholars and intellectuals from a range of disciplines:

 

Salman Sayyid – Sa’diyyah Shaikh – Ramon Grosfoguel

Farid Esack – Syed Farid Alatas

Shahid Mathee – Fatima Seedat – Gabeba Baderoon

Michael Mumisa (TBD) – Nelson Maldonado-Torres

 

 

Subject Outline

These topics offer a brief idea of the broad scope of courses covered at the Summer School:

Introduction to Critical Muslim Studies and Decoloniality

Islamic Liberation Theology

Islamophobia and Race

Islamic Feminism and Gender Justice

Islam, Ibn Khaldun and Decolonizing Sociology

Islam in Africa and the Timbuktu Archives

 

Publications

As the Critical Muslim Studies program has developed, a number of publications associated with faculty of the Summer School have appeared. These provide outlets for debate, discussion and further research on topics and themes associated with the Summer School.

Decolonial Studies/Postcolonial Horizons

Critical Muslim Studies

Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (IRDP)

ReOrient: The Journal of Critical Muslim Studies