Goodspeed Lecture Series Brings Leila Ahmed To Denison to Discuss Gender and Islam
Posted: March 15, 2004
The Denison University Goodspeed Lecture Series will host Leila Ahmed to discuss the role of women and gender in Islam. Her speech, "Women in Islam and America: Reflections on Where We are Today," is set for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday (March 23) in Slayter Auditorium and is free and open to the public.
"Gender is among the most frequently misunderstood and debated aspects of Islam and Middle-Eastern cultures," says Bahram Tavakolian, professor of sociology/anthropology at Denison. "Ahmed is a world-renowned specialist in the historical analysis of the relationships between women and Islam. Bringing Ahmed to Denison is an effort to continue campus-wide discussions of the roles of Islam within both domestic and international politics."
Ahmed, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, was the first person to hold the Women's Studies in Religion Professorship (1999) at Harvard University. Ahmed has also been a member of the Women's Studies in Religion Program Advisory Committee since 1992. She previously served as professor of women's studies and Near-Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and was a distinguished visiting professor at American University in Cairo, Egypt.
Ahmed's personal experiences in crossing social and cultural boundaries have influenced her work. She has experienced the personal "lived" Islam taught by her mother and the ritualistic and sometimes oppressive Islam enforced by the state. She fights stereotypes within Islam and in the non-Arab world. "Generations of astute, thoughtful women, listening to the Koran understood perfectly well its essential themes and its faith. And looking around them, they understood perfectly well too, what a travesty men had made of it," says Ahmed. She also has seen the emphasis of issues such as polygamy, the veil and female circumcision in the United States and that people had little understanding of the religion outside of these issues. Ahmed has set out to change this problematic understanding.
Ahmed earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Cambridge in England. She was the recipient of a distinguished faculty fellowship award at Cambridge in 1996 and elected to a life membership at Clare Hall in 1997. Ahmed is the author of numerous publications including her autobiographyA Border Passage: From Cairo to America-A Woman's Journey (1999), Women and Gender in the Islamic Middle East (1993)andWomen and Gender in Islam: The Historical Roots of a Modern Debate(1992).
While at Denison Ahmed will be visiting several classes.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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