About the Presenters Spring 2019

“Shaikh Qasim Al-Thani and the emergence of Qatar”
James Reardon-Anderson
Georgetown University in Qatar

This study traces the career of Sheikh Qasim (Jassim) bin Mohammed Al-Thani, the second in the line of Al-Thani rulers (later term “emirs”), who is widely regarded as the central figure in the establishment of the state of Qatar and the House of Al-Thani.  The main argument is that Sheikh Qasim was a tribal chief, who in that role followed the tradition of seeking both the security and the expansion of his realm by short-term initiatives that lacked strategic vision or purpose, but amounted over time in the creation of an independent political unit that had all the features of a modern state.  This is a revision of the view, celebrated by the hagiography of Qasim and the prevailing account of the state of Qatar and its ruling family, which presents Qasim as a heroic figure who set out to create something unknown to his contemporaries, and thus seeks to place the story of Qasim and of Qatar in a more realistic account of historical development.

James Reardon-Anderson is professor of history in the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar.  From 2005-09, he served as the founding dean of GU-Q and served again as dean, from 2016-17, before returning full-time to the GU-Q faculty.  He has written and published extensively on the history of China, and is now turning his attention to the history of Qatar and the Gulf. 

“Staging the Incas in Colonial Lima”
María Soledad Barbón
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

This talk centers on what constitutes one of the most important innovations in Lima’s festive culture during colonial times, namely the officially sanctioned participation of Amerindians as an ethnic group. Under Habsburg rule, Amerindians had offered festive tributes in other major cities, which most notably featured processions of Inca kings. It was, however, only in 1723 that the “Incas” were also brought to the capital of the viceroyalty. Drawing on a wide range of rare published and hitherto unknown manuscript materials, this talk traces the development of indigenous festivals from 1723 until 1790. During this period these fiestas underwent significant change: Inca processions were first reduced and then finally abolished; the providential view of Peru’s history, which emphasized the voluntary surrender of the Incas to the Spaniards faded into the background, and the military conquest was foregrounded. Indigenous performances were gradually stripped of traces of ambiguity. Archival records show that, despite outwardly praising and supporting Amerindian festivals, the colonial authorities never ceased to look with a wary eye at indigenous performance of fealty. Were they marching as vassals of the king or as rulers in their own right?

Professor Barbón holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of Cologne, Germany. Her teaching and research interests include the literature and culture of colonial Latin America, transatlantic studies, hemispheric studies, and anthropophagy. She is the author of Peruanische Satire am Vorabend der Unabhängigkeit (Droz) as well as of articles on colonial literature and culture. Her book Colonial Loyalties: Celebrating the Spanish Monarchy in Eighteenth-Century Lima is under contract with the University of Notre Dame Press. Before joining the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Massachusetts, she held appointments at the University of Cologne, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington.

"Market Access, Trade Costs, and Technology Adoption: Evidence from Northern Tanzania"
Shilpa Aggarwal
Indian School of Business

In this paper, we quantify market access in rural Tanzania, and the extent to which it constrains agricultural productivity. We collect granular data on farmer input and sales decisions, input and output prices, and travel costs in all 1,183 villages in two regions of Tanzania. We find that a village in the 90th percentile of the travel-cost adjusted price distribution faces input and output prices 40-55% less favorable than a village at the 10th percentile. In reduced form, an additional standard deviation of travel time is associated with 20-25% lower input adoption and output sales. We develop and quantify a spatial model of input adoption and conservatively estimate that farmers behave as if they face local travel costs of 5.7% ad-valorem per kilometer of travel, which is equivalent to 45% when traveling to the closest retailer. Holding exogenous local factors fixed, we estimate that reducing travel costs by 50% (approximately the effect of paving rural roads) would double adoption and reduces the adoption-remoteness radiant by 15%

Shilpa Aggrawal is Assistant Professor at the Indian School of Business. Her area of research is in development economics where she has studied the effects of transportation infrastructure and micro-finance on developing economies. She received her PhD in Economics from U.C. Santa Cruz in 2014.

"Intersectional Theology"
Grace Ji-Sun Kim
Earlham School of Religion

For most of Christian history, theology has been the purview of educated, heterosexual, white, Western men. Recognizing the importance of context for theology, liberation theologies challenged traditional paradigms, centering the marginalized and articulating theologies from below. While these theologies shifted the center to diverse identities, they tended to be mono-focused, or what feminist scholar Vivian May calls “gender-first” or “race-first,” an approach that gives priority to one facet of identity as explanatory for experiences of oppression. Black feminist thought, however, gave rise to the notion of intersectionality. Intersectionality recognizes that people experience multiple and intersecting systems of oppression and domination simultaneously and so calls for “both/and” rather than “single axis” thinking. Intersectional theology asks theology the questions of intersectionality. Its questions challenge theology to decenter the mythical norm and center intersections of identities and structures of power toward a praxis of justice.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and is an Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. She is the author or editor of 16 books, Intersectional Theology; Healing Our Broken Humanity; The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the Holy Spirit, Planetary Solidarity: Mother Daughter Speak; Intercultural Ministry; Making Peace with the Earth; Embracing the Other; Here I Am; Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justice; Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style”; Contemplations from the Heart; Reimagining with Christian Doctrines; Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Power; The Holy Spirit, Chi and the Other; and The Grace of Sophia.
She is a Series Editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for Palgrave Macmillan Series, “Asian Christianity in the Diaspora”. Kim was on the American Academy of Religion’s Board of Directors as an At-Large Director and was a co-chair of AAR’s “Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching and Activism Group. Kim writes for Sojourners, EthicsDaily.com, Wabash Center and Feminist Studies in Religion (co-editor). She has also written for TIME, The Feminist Wire, Feminism and Religion, The Forum for Theological Education and The Nation. Kim is an ordained PC (USA) minister and more of her writing can be found on her blog site https://gracejisunkim.wordpress.com/

"Just Labour Markets: Asset Equality versus Workplace Democracy?"
Christian Schemmel
University of Manchester

Liberal republican theories of justice require that people be protected against domination – against others’ capacity to interfere with significant choices or interests of theirs in an arbitrary, or uncontrolled, fashion (republican), while also insisting that they enjoy far-reaching autonomy in developing and exercising their own conception of the good (liberal). There is currently much debate about what kind of workplace regime these theories imply. Should they aim at a very competitive labour market in which all would be-employees have equal, and high, bargaining power over job choice and conditions because they possess equal assets (“a property-owning democracy”) – without much state regulation of how workplace relations ought to look like? Or is there is a strong case for mandating a high degree of workplace democracy on these theories? The former option looks attractive on both republican and liberal counts. Workers’ non-domination is secured by strong exit rights, and they remain able to freely choose their preferred work environment, including a non-democratic one.
     However, this paper argues that liberal republicans should nevertheless endorse a high degree of mandatory workplace democracy. This conclusion is favoured by the conjunction of two arguments. The first is that all labour markets need, on pain of being massively inefficient, a default workplace regime enshrined in corporate and employment law. But the very existence of such a default regime considerably constrains the possibility of free negotiation over job conditions which the equal assets-solution prizes. The second argument is that the default should be set in favour of workplace democracy, because workers - especially those lacking highly sought-after skills (and perhaps also those with hyperspecialised skills)  – tend to face difficulties of exit that employers do not face, even on a very competitive labour market characterized by equal background assets, and even under low to no involuntary unemployment. Exit can have high costs for workers, measured in disruption to personal lives, while not tending to disrupt the employers’ personal life to a similar extent (if she has one at all; corporations do not). If personal costs are high, economic opportunity of exit does not suffice for non-domination. Liberal objections to workplace democracy based on efficiency, exploitation, and non-perfectionism, have little purchase against this argument.  A better objection would have to show that exit has special protective capacities against domination for groups other than those most protected by workplace democracy, and that we should, on balance, favour their increased protection over that of the latter.
    If the argument is sound, it should be of interest not only for the debate in political philosophy on the socio-economic implications of liberal republicanism, but also for comparative political economy. One might think that different countries with different workplace regimes face different, but equally good, routes towards more social justice on the labour market, and in workplace regimes: those with some mandatory workplace democracy (for example, Sweden and Germany) should go for more of it, and those without (for example, the US and the UK) should aim at increasing and equalising employees' individual bargaining and exit powers. If the argument is sound, the second strategy cannot be as good as the first.

Christian Schemmel is a Lecturer in Political Theory at MANCEPT, (Manchester Centre for Political Theory), University of Manchester.  
Before joining MANCEPT, he  was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies “Justitia Amplificata –Rethinking Justice”, and a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute Florence. His research interests are theories of social justice and equality, liberalism and republicanism, global justice, political theory of the welfare state, and moral psychology (self-respect and other self-evaluative attitudes).

"Developing Future Pasts: Recalibration Islamic Tradition in Intensive Education Settings"
Zainab Kabba
Cambridge Muslim College


To be Muslim can be seen as living within the imagined landscape of recorded pasts. Islamic knowledge, whether the process of knowledge acquisition or individual questions around tenets of faith, practice or interpretation, is a defining part of the development of religious identity. Religious teachers are charged with distilling life guidelines from the revealed texts and ancillary sources to provide guidance on how Muslims can understand their location in and orientation to the modern world. In this paper I provide a rich ethnographic narrative of the ways in which western religious teachers in two intensive educational settings in western countries, reconfigure Islamic tradition using narratives of time and place for a fashioning of a Muslim self that weaves a distinct thread within the American socio-political landscape. These learning environments are a vehicle by which tradition reconceptualises and communicates new stories for future pasts – ways to readapt classical narratives to live in the future.

Dr Zainab Kabba is an educator, researcher, and programmes developer from New York City. She holds a DPhil in Education from the University of Oxford, UK, an MA in Computing in Education from Columbia University and a BS in Information Systems from Stony Brook University. Her doctoral research is an ethnographic exploration of the reconfiguration of tradition for American Muslims in short-term intensive Islamic educational settings in the United States, Canada and Turkey.
Dr Kabba provides guidance on educational research and curriculum alignment for non-academic Islamic programmes for Muslim educational organisations and acts as an advisor on academic research projects related to British and American Muslim communities. Currently, she is the Executive Director at Cambridge Muslim College, where she oversees the provision of faith leadership through education, training and research based on a dialogue between the Islamic intellectual tradition and the ideas and circumstances of the modern world.
Her work has spanned numerous industry sectors such as pharmaceutical, higher education, non-profit and charity. In her previous work at Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind the television programme Sesame Street, she managed relationships with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders and oversaw the development of educational content for television programming, classroom resources, and teacher training for the Workshop's international co-productions in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

From “Ergenekon" to “Mastermind": Political Melodramas of Conspiracy in Turkey.
Erdağ Göknar
Duke University

In 2008 the Turkish Constitutional Court was one vote shy of banning the ruling AKP for “anti-secular activity”. Around the same time, the ruling AKP helped open up new spaces of judicial retaliation against opposition figures by articulating a series of political conspiracy narratives amplified through the media. Relying on a literary analysis of conspiracy, I argue that conspiracism has functioned to prefigure and legitimate authoritarian illiberalism, whether secular or Islamist. As such, I redefine conspiracism as a discursive practice that can instrumentalize legal and electoral processes for the accumulation of state power. 

Erdağ Göknar is director of the Duke University Middle East Studies Center. He is the award-winning translator of Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red and A.H. Tanpınar’s A Mind at Peace, and is the author of Orhan Pamuk Secularism and Blasphemy: The Politics of the Turkish Novel (Routledge 2013).