1. The Herbert C. Kelman Seminar on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution is pleased to present:

    “Beyond the Headlines: Understanding and Misunderstanding Islam”

    A lecture by Ali S. Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures and Director of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Program in Islamic Studies at Harvard

    Respondent: Jeff Seul, Lecturer on the Practice of Peace at Harvard Divinity School, Chairman of the Peace Appeal Foundation, and Partner at Holland & Knight

    Sponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs; the Nieman Foundation for Journalism; Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School; and Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

    Part of the Islam and the Practice of Peace Lecture Series, an initiative of the Islamic Studies Program aimed at exploring resources for peacemaking within the Islamic tradition.

    The theme of the 2015–2016 Herbert C. Kelman Seminar on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution is negotiation, conflict, and the news media. It explores the relationship between the news media and conflict-resolution efforts worldwide and examines how the framing and reporting of conflict influences the public understanding of events. The seminar considers ways to strengthen the capacity to prevent, resolve, and transform ethno-national conflicts. The topics this year include the rise of political Islam, domestic conflicts related to race, the impact of reporting techniques on conflict, the neuroscience of conflict, new threats to national security, and more. Speakers include experts from academia and the media, as well as political actors from conflict regions. For more information, contact Donna Hicks at dhicks@wcfia.harvard.edu.

    About the speakers:

    Ali S. Asani is Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard and Director of the University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Program in Islamic Studies. He attended Harvard College, with a concentration in the Comparative Study of Religion and continued his doctoral studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He teaches courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition including two courses in the undergraduate general education curriculum. He is particularly interested in the interaction between religion, literature and the arts in Muslim Societies. Professor Asani’s use of the arts in pedagogy is part of his broader effort to eradicate what he calls “religious illiteracy.” For more than 30 years, he has dedicated himself to helping others better understand the rich subtext and diverse influences that make religion — in particular, Islam — a complex cultural touchstone. In 2002, he was awarded the Harvard Foundation medal for his outstanding contributions to improving intercultural and race relations by promoting a better understanding of Islam. More recently he received the Petra C. Shattuck Prize for distinguished teaching from Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education.

    Jeff Seul, MTS ’97, LLM ’01, is Lecturer on the Practice of Peace at Harvard Divinity School. He also serves as chairman of the Peace Appeal Foundationand is a partner in the international law firm Holland & Knight. The Peace Appeal Foundation, which was founded with a mandate from five Nobel Peace Laureates, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk, is an international NGO that helps local stakeholders launch and sustain broad-scale peace and national dialogues processes to end or avoid war. Jeff earned an MTS at Harvard Divinity School and an LLM in international law at Harvard Law School. After graduating from HDS, Jeff taught negotiation and conflict resolution courses for several years at Harvard Law School, where he developed Harvard’s first course on complex, multiparty negotiations. He was also a senior associate of the Program on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Jeff’s scholarship at Harvard and since has focused on religion and peacebuilding, including the role of identity dynamics in violent conflict involving religious groups and approaches to transformation of conflicts with a religious dimension. He also writes about possibilities for consensual resolution of legal disputes involving deeply-held moral values. His 1999 article “’Ours is the Way of God’: Religion, Identity and Intergroup Conflict: in the Journal of Peace Research was among the first to combine work in the social sciences and religious studies to explain why religion and conflict sometimes become entangled. A forthcoming article, entitled “Trust the Stranger as Your Own: Tapping Religious Prosociality for Conflict Transformation,” draws upon recent social scientific work to suggest ways in which religion can contribute to peacebuilding.

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  4. Hüseyin Yılmaz of the University of South Florida on “Languages of Good Governance in the Ottoman Empire” at the Third Annual Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Conference at Harvard University, entitled "Contemporary Islamic Thought on Good Governance," April 2011.

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  5. There has been some debate in recent years concerning the historical origins of written vernacular languages in India, and more particularly, the role such languages might have played in creating regional communities. One school argues that written vernaculars crystallized as a result of state patronage, with courts supporting either the production of discursive or other types of literature, or promoting the use of such languages for bureaucratic purposes. Another school argues that vernacular tongues emerged as a consequence of the rise of bhakti devotional cults, especially through the efforts of bhakti poets to use written forms of these languages as a means of reaching common people, or indeed, of such poets verbalizing religious sentiments that were already alive among devotional communities. Thus the question, in a nutshell, is whether written vernaculars are to be understood as phenomena that arose “from above”, or “from below.” My paper plans to examine three written vernacular traditions, Bengali, Telugu, and Marathi, with a view to evaluating the merits of both modes of explanation against empirical evidence respecting each of these language traditions. It also considers factors that might move the debate well beyond the either/or choice that is implied in the “above” and “below” dichotomy.

    Dr. Eaton’s research interests focus on the social and cultural history of pre-modern India (1000-1800), and especially on the range of historical interactions between Iran and India, and on Islam in South Asia. He has published monographs on the social roles of Sufis (Muslim mystics) in the Indian sultanate of Bijapur (1300-1700), on the growth of Islam in Bengal (1204-1760), and on the social history of the Deccan from 1300 to 1761. Most recently, he has co-authored a monograph entitled Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-16. These four historical monographs employ as analytical tools, respectively, Weberian social thought, Annales School methodology, biography, and architecture.

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