Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Linder Commons, 1957 E Street, NW; Room 602
The worldwide resurgence of Islamic piety has raised important methodological and theoretical questions about subjectivity: what do these expressions of devotion mean to the people who engage in them? Mahmood (2006) argues that understanding Muslim women’s piety requires appreciation of an alternative subjectivity, one that challenges standard models of Western liberal feminism. Deeb (2010) has argued that pious discourse is not as coherent as all that, and that Muslim subjects entertain alternative models depending on the context. Professor of Anthropology, International Affairs and Human Sciences, Joel Kuipers calls for an ethnographic approach to piety, urging scholars to avoid prematurely attributing inner states and interior conditions to the people they describe. His research investigates piety in Islamic Java by examining ethnographically the role of Arabic as medium of expression in its context of use.
Joel Kuipers received his B.A. in English and sociology with Honors from Calvin College in 1976, and his M.Phil. (1978) and Ph.D. from Yale in 1982. Before he came to the Anthropology Department at The George Washington University in the fall of 1989, he served on the faculties of Brown, Wesleyan, and Seton Hall Universities. He has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (1994-95), and a visiting scholar at Harvard, Stanford, and Brown Universities. His main publications relate to the language and culture of Indonesia, and include: Power and Performance: the Creation of Textual Authority in Weyewa Ritual Speech (University of Pennsylvania, 1990); and Language, Identity and Marginality in Indonesia: the changing nature of ritual speech on the island of Sumba (Cambridge, 1998).