ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion - Benjamin Schewel

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 14:00to15:30

Dr Benjamin Schewel, Duke University, will speak on: Imagining the Islamic Ecumene: Marshall Hodgson as Philosopher of History

Hosted on Zoom: https://mcgill.zoom.us/s/8266062657

February 17, 2021, 2:00 PM EST (UTC-5).

The Keenan Chair of Interfaith Studies and the James McGill Professor of Islamic Philosophy are collaborating in a reflection on religion, Islam, and cosmopolitanism associated with McGill’s academic tradition of Islamic Studies, and epitomized by scholars such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Fazlur Rahman, and Toshihiko Izutsu.

In preparation for the Keenan Conference on World Religions and Globalization, to be held in Montreal in May 2022, we are hosting an online lecture series titled ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion: History, Theory, and Society. While the study of the Islamosphere has stimulated a critical reconceptualization of the notion of religion, we would like to extend this reflection to how religious concepts have been embedded in broader views of history and society, including the Western colonial construction of the “Middle East” as the cradle not just of Islam but of all Abrahamic religions.

The fifth speaker in the series will be Dr Benjamin Schewel, Duke University. The title of the lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A, is Imagining the Islamic Ecumene: Marshall Hodgson as Philosopher of History.

Abstract: Ibn Khaldun's studies of the rise and fall of Islamicate empires have proven to be of widespread and enduring relevance within broader fields of social scientific research.

In the same vein, this lecture argues, the insights that Marshall Hodgson derives from his far-reaching study of the origins and evolution of the Islamicate ecumene should figure centrally in the ongoing efforts of philosophers, social theorists, and humanistic scholars of various sorts to reconceptualize world history through a non-Western-centric and more spiritually sympathetic lens.

In order to advance this claim, the presentation situates Hodgson's major world-historical arguments within the discourse on the nature and implications of the Axial Age (800-200 BCE), an approach that he consciously utilizes to orient his analyses in The Venture of Islam.

Benjamin Schewel is a Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University and Director of the Center on Modernity in Transition (COMIT). He additionally serves as an Affiliate Member of the School of Religious Studies at McGill University and as an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Seven Ways of Looking at Religion, published by Yale University Press in 2017, and is currently finishing a second book, also to be published by Yale University Press, entitled, Encountering the Axial Age.

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