Books

Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology. Editor. Ilex Foundation and Harvard University Press, 2021.

Muslims in the Movies provides a series of essays that explore the portrayal and reception of Muslims in Euro-American film, transnational productions, and global national cinemas. The volume brings together a group of internationally recognized experts to introduce Muslims in the films of Europe, North America, Australia, Iran, Egypt, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The interdisciplinary collection explores issues of identity, cultural production, and representation through the depiction of Muslims on screen and how audiences respond to these images. Together, the essays operate as an introduction to the subject of Muslims and film for new readers while also serving as new works of critical analysis for scholars of cinema.

Reviews

Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology brings together a stunning array of scholarship on the representations of Muslims around the world. From drama to romantic comedies, the chapters deftly explore themes of gender and sexuality, censorship, religiosity, conversion, and secularism. With its innovative comparative analysis of both Muslim-majority and Western societies, this is an urgent and highly original contribution to our understanding of how Muslims are represented across media cultures.” – Evelyn Alsultany, University of Southern California, author of Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11

“We often treat Muslims in terms of black or white, either or. This collection of essays, by some of the world’s leading scholars, throws open the door to a much wider view. It provides a tapestry that deals with the many nuances of Muslim cultures around the world, providing a global perspective on Islam.” – William L. Blizek, Founding Editor, Journal of Religion & Film

“Mainstream western cinema and storytelling play an influential role when it comes to the representation of Muslim life. Muslims in these stories are often stereotyped and depicted as outsiders. Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology is an exciting new collection that looks beyond this stereotype by bringing together the study of religion and film from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States. Seeking to interrogate the vexed question of Muslim identities from the African American Malcolm X to the Hausa language film industry in Kanywood, this volume will appeal to both the general reader and scholars looking to understand global Muslim communities through a cultural lens.” – Amina Yaqin, SOAS, University of London, co-author of Framing Muslims: Stereotyping and Representation after 9/11

New Approaches to Islam in Film. Editor. Routledge, 2021.

This collection of essays, from an international panel of contributors, significantly expands the boundaries of discussion around Muslims in film, asking new questions of the archive and magnifying analyses of particular cultural productions. The volume includes the exploration of regional cinemas, detailed analysis of auteurs and individual films, comparison across global cinema, and new explorations that have not yet entered the conversation. The interdisciplinary collection provides an examination of the multiple roles Islam plays in film and the various ways Muslims are depicted. Across the chapters, key intersecting themes arise that push the limits of how we currently approach issues of Muslims in cinema and ventures to lead us in new directions for future scholarship.

This book adds new depth to the matrix of previous scholarship by revisiting methodological structures and sources, as well as exploring new visual geographies, transnational circuits, and approaches. It reframes the presiding scholarly conventions in five novel trajectories: considering new sources, exploring new communities, probing new perspectives, charting new theoretical directions, and offering new ways of understanding conflict in cinema. As such, it will be of great use to scholars working in Islamic Studies, Film Studies, Religious Studies, and Media.

Introductions to Digital Humanities: Research Methods in the Study of Religion. Co-editor with Christopher Cantwell. de Gruyter, 2020.

Digital technology has fundamentally transformed every aspect of the field’s work, from the way we research and teach to how we provide service to our universities and profession. This volume is an edited introduction addressing specific areas of study at the intersections of digital humanities & religio. Essays offer an overview of digital tools and methods through exemplary digital humanities projects. It is intended to help its scholars working in Religious Studies navigate the digital turn in the study of religion, both defining challenges and opportunities for further research.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.13.47 AMInterpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab. Oxford University Press. 2017.

Interpreting Islam in China explores the contours of the Sino-Islamic intellectual tradition through the works of some of its brightest luminaries in order to identify and explicate pivotal transitions in their engagement with the Islamic tradition. Three prominent Sino-Muslim authors are representative of major junctures within the history of Sino-Islamic thought and are used to illustrate discursive transformations within this tradition, Wang Daiyu 王岱輿 (1590-1658), the earliest important author; Liu Zhi 劉智 (1670-1724), the most prolific scholar; and Ma Dexin 馬德新 (1794-1874), the last major intellectual in pre-modern China. Through an analysis of the subjects of pilgrimage, scripture, and language this project fosters an exploration of broader issues of vernacularization, dialogics, translation, centers and peripheries, and tradition in their writings.

 

 Reviews

“Kristian Petersen contributes substantially to the intellectual and religious history of Islam in China by analyzing the Han Kitab through the lens of Religious Studies.  Focused on themes of pilgrimage, scriptural translation, and the significance of the Arabic language, he skillfully attends to both the ideas and the contexts of three central Sino-Muslim thinkers.  All three tried to reconnect their communities to what they perceived as a lost religious heritage, originally written in Arabic and Persian but lived and comprehended in Chinese.  Petersen reconstructs an intellectual middle ground, a series of ‘dialogic environments,’ in which Islam made authentic and authoritative sense within Chinese culture at particular historical moments.  Theoretically broad and contextually specific, he demonstrates that Chinese and Islamic civilizations have conversed, not simply clashed.”—Jonathan Lipman, Professor Emeritus of History, Mount Holyoke College, author of Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China

“Through close readings, by turns contextual and deconstructive, of the writings of three leading Sino-Muslim scholars, Kristian Petersen unravels the translations and transfers that molded an Islam both in and for China. His case studies of the changing status of pilgrimage, scripture and sacred language among Han Kitab authors at once broadens the scope of Islamic Studies and deepens our understanding of world history by pursuing the intellectual traffic of inter-Asian interactions.”—Nile Green, UCLA, author of Sufism: A Global History

“With painstaking erudition and great care, Kristian Petersen uncovers and reconstructs many hitherto unknown bridges between Chinese Islam and the wider Islamic world. Interpreting Islam in China forges new ways of understanding and appreciating the Han Kitab, Chinese Islam’s enormous corpus, and introduces for the first time its last great author, Ma Dexin. A beautiful study of one of the remote corners of the Islamic world of thinking.”—Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, New York University, author of The Dao of Muhammad: A Cultural History of Muslims in Late Imperial China

It is “highly advisable especially for scholars who have no expertise on Islam in China to take his book seriously as a contribution to our understanding of how the Qurʾān was read and interpreted by Muslims throughout history, across space and language divides. … Petersen has taken great care, throughout the book, to go beyond a philological analysis of his sources and draw systematic conclusions that make his findings accessible, theoretically useful, and suitable for comparison with the development of Muslim scholarship, education, and scriptural exegesis in other regions of the world.

… We are still far from being able to write a history of Qurʾān translation or, more broadly, non-Arabic Muslim engagement with the Qurʾān. Books such as Petersen’s are important steps on the way to this goal. His thoughtful analysis, his insightful conclusions, and his broad reflections on the authors’ contexts, motives, and audiences provide ample potential for comparative readings.”—Johanna Pink, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, author of Muslim Qur’anic Interpretation Today: Media, Genealogies and Interpretive Communities

“Kristian Petersen’s new book is an excellent addition to the growing body of literature on the Sinophone Hui Muslims in imperial China. …The book is written in clear and accessible prose; there is no doubt that it can be used in classes for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students. To anyone interested in an alternative—and rich—Islamic tradition lodged in the Chinese- speaking world, this book would prove an invaluable reference; and those who do have a genuine commitment to understanding China cultural and religious heterogeneity that is under increasing attack from both Han nationalists and a repressive state apparatus will be grateful for Petersen’s contribution.”—Guangtian Ha, Haverford College, author of Sound of Salvation: Voice, Gender and the Sufi Mediascape in China

“This excellent and eminently well-researched book systematically elucidates the contextual development of the fascinating Sino-Islamic philosophical tradition known as the Han Kitab. …Petersen systematically contextualizes Sino-Muslim thought to a degree not seen before, allowing him to effectively and insightfully illuminate the process of tradition creation within the Han Kitab while, simultaneously, demonstrating the value of localized interpretations of Islam. Petersen’s comparative treatment of his three authors is also a refreshing innovation; by allowing three prominent but very different Han Kitab writers to be laid out and analyzed side by side for the first time, Petersen deepens our understanding of how Sino-Islamic thought evolved. For these reasons alone, Petersen is to be applauded for his efforts.”—Alexander Wain, International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies

“Kristian Petersen’s new book, Interpreting Islam in China, is a masterful study of Sinophone Muslims in late imperial China. …It will no doubt join the groundbreaking volumes of Zvi Ben-Dor, Jonathan Lipman, Ma Tong, Wang Jianping, and many others in bringing to light voices from an important historical corner of the Islamic world.” – Tristan G. Brown, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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