Religious and Social Change in the Middle East
The Middle East is often viewed as a crossroads for religion and violence, but rarely do we seek to understand how conflict and violence themselves reshape people's understanding of religious practice, belief and community. What accounts for religious change or persistence in the midst of conflict? How do changes in politics, society and culture affect religion?
Join us for a discussion in which panelists Anand Gopal (ASU), Edith Szanto (American University of Iraq-Sulaimani) and Rozina Ali (The New Yorker) explore these questions in the context of conflict and post-conflict situations across Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. RSVP is requested.
Anand Gopal (PhD, Columbia) is assistant research professor with the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Center on the Future of War at Arizona State University. The author of "No Good Men Among the Living," Gopal is a journalist and sociologist who has reported extensively on Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. His 2017 piece for the New York Times Magazine, “The Uncounted” (co-written with Azmat Khan), won the 2018 National Magazine Award, 2018 Ed Cunningham Award for Best Magazine Reporting and the 2018 Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. His 2017 article for The Atlantic, “The Hell After ISIS,” was recognized with a George Polk Award. His current work focuses on diverse political and religious actors in the Middle East, from violent extremists to the democratic council movement. He pays particular attention to the ways in which religious and other networks help shape these movements.
Edith Szanto (PhD, University of Toronto) is associate professor of religious studies at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani. Her research and teaching focuses on Islam in the modern Middle East, popular movements in Islam, Twelver Shi’ism and representations of Islam in Middle East media, especially film and children’s literature. Before joining the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, she spent three years in Syria, initially as a Fulbright scholar and then as an intern and consultant for the U.N., including work with the U.N. Refugee Agency and U.N. Development Programme. Her work has been published in the Journal of Middle East Women's Studies, the Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East and the International Journal for Middle Eastern Studies. She is also an ASU alum, having graduated summa cum laude from ASU’s religious studies department in 2002.
Rozina Ali is on the editorial staff of the New Yorker and a contributing editor at the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, where she served as senior editor from 2013 to 2015. From 2010 to 2013, she was deputy editor for management thinking at The Economist Intelligence Unit in New York. Her work focuses on how counterterrorism policies have affected Muslim Americans, national security and the politics of the Middle East and South Asia. Her articles have appeared in the New Yorker, The Guardian, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Al Jazeera America, Foreign Policy, Salon and others.