About the Speakers
Sadia Abbas (Co-director) – Lecturer in English at the University of Michigan. Dr. Abbas received her Ph.D. in English from Brown University. Her specialization is on the works of Salman Rushdie, Renaissance English literature, and late-20th-century fiction and culture. She is currently working on the effects of the rhetoric of cultural politics and theory upon literary method and political discourse.
Sadik al-Azm (Moderator) – Retired Professor of Modern European Philosophy at the University of Damascus, Professor al-Azm is currently a Visiting Scholar in the Near Eastern Studies department at Princeton University. He obtained his PhD in modern European philosophy from Yale University. His research interests focus on the history of Western philosophy and contemporary Arab society, culture and thought and its relationship to the West. His works include: Self-criticism after the Defeat (1968); Kant's Theory of Time (1967); The Origins of Kant's Arguments in the Antinomies (1972); Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse (1981); and Beyond the Tabooing Mentality: Reading the Satanic Verses (1997). Al-Azm has taught at the University of Damascus, American University of Beirut, Harvard, Princeton and the University of Hamburg. In 1990-91, he was a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. He stayed as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. during 1992-93. He has won many awards and honors culminating in Leopold-Lucas-Preis and the Erasmus Prize, both in 2004. The Erasmus Prize is a coveted honor from the European Union which is awarded for exceptional contributions to European culture and society.
Ifi Amadiume (Presenter) – Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College. Professor Amadiume received her Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of London. Her research interests include African Goddesses and Matriarchy; Spirit Possession; Gender, Society and Culture; Women's Organizations; Social Movements; Religion, Culture and the State; Religion and Literature; Human Rights and Social Justice; Gender ideology and Philosophy in indigenous religions of Africa and the African diaspora; and Women in African Islam. Her publications include Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society (London and New Jersey: Zed Books, 1987, 6th Impression 1997); African Matriarchal Foundations: The Igbo Case (London: Karnak House, 1987); Reinventing Africa: Matriarchy, Religion and Culture (London and New Jersey: Zed Books and St. Martin's Press, 1997); Daughters of the Goddess, Daughters of Imperialsim (Zed Books, 2000) and The Politics of Memory: Truth, Healing and Social Justice, co-edited with Abdullahi An Na'im (Zed Books, 2000). She has also published two award-winning poetry books: Passion Waves (London: Karnak House, 1985) and Ecstasy (Longman Nigeria, 1995). Her latest books of poetry, Voice Draped in Black and Circles of Love are due out from Africa World Press in 2006.
Bryan Cheyette (Presenter) – Chair in Modern Literature in the School of English and American Literature at the University of Reading, U.K. Professor Cheyette received his PhD in English and Social History from the University of Sheffield. His research interests include late nineteenth- , twentieth- and twenty-first century English literature; British-Jewish literature; 'new' literatures in English; theories of race and modernity; and Holocaust literature. He is the author of Constructions of 'the Jew' in English Literature and Society (Columbia University Press, 1993) and Muriel Spark (Northcote, 2000) and is currently completing Diasporas of the Mind for Yale University Press.
Colin Dayan (Presenter) – Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. Professor Dayan received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her primary areas of scholarship include American Studies, comparative Caribbean cultural history, and legal and religious histories of the Americas. She is the author of Fables of Mind: An Inquiry into Poe's Fiction (Oxford University Press, 1987) and Haiti, History, and the Gods (University of California Press, 1995). Her book Held in the Body of the State is forthcoming from Princeton University Press. She is also working on The Law is a White Dog, a book-length series of stories on the mechanisms of the law, spiritual belief, and the supernatural.
Simon Gikandi (Co-director) – Professor of English at Princeton University. He received his Ph.D in English from Northwestern University. Professor Gikandi’s major fields of research are the Anglophone Literatures and Cultures of Africa, India, the Caribbean, and Postcolonial Britain, the Black Atlantic and the African Diaspora. He also has a special interest in the relation between literature and the production of knowledge and the history of English as a field of study. His books include: Reading the African Novel (Heinemann, 1987), Reading Chinua Achebe (Heinemann, 1991), Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature (Cornell University Press, 1992), Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism (Columbia University Press, 1996), and Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Cambridge University Press, 2000). He is currently working on a project on the relation between slavery and the culture of taste.
Nicole Gyulay (Presenter) – Nicole Gyulay is currently in her final year of research for a PhD on portrayals of religion in postcolonial literature, focusing on the work of Salman Rushdie, Ben Okri, and V.S. Naipaul. She attends Royal Holloway, University of London, where she also teaches a course on postcolonialism. Her first article, titled "Writing for the West: V.S. Naipaul's Religion," was recently published in the South Asian Review.
R. A. T. Judy (Presenter) – Professor of English at Pittsburgh University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Minnesota. Professor Judy’s areas of special interest include Immanuel Kant, Ibn Khaldun, post-structuralist theory and post-colonial theory. He teaches literary and cultural theory, and he is the author of (Dis)forming the American Canon: The Vernacular of African Arabic American Slave Narrative (University of Minnesota Press, 1993). His current work involves exploring the ways in which particular "popular cultural movements" engage in thinking about the problems of authenticity and sovereignty in relation to an emerging global economy. This work focuses specifically on Islamist projects of communal identity in North America, Europe, and Africa, as well as the globalization of Hip Hop science.
Aamir Mufti (Presenter) - Associate Professor in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He did his Ph.D. work in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University under the direction of Edward Said. Professor Mufti's interests range over such issues as secularism and faith in modern culture, Marxism and aesthetics, minority cultures, exile and displacement, refugees and the right to asylum, modernism and fascism, language conflicts, and the history of anthropology. He works mainly in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Urdu literature and nineteenth-century British literature. He is the author of Enlightenment in the Colony: The Jewish Question and Dilemmas in Postcolonial Culture, (forthcoming from Princeton University Press, 2006), editor of Critical Secularism, a special issue of Boundary 2 (2004), and is co-editor of the volume, Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives (Minnesota University Press, 1997).
Derek Peterson (Presenter) – Lecturer in African History at Cambridge University and Fellow of Selwyn College. Dr. Peterson received his PhD in History from the University of Minnesota. His research concerns the history of language, religion, and political thought in colonial eastern Africa. His most recent book is titled Creative Writing: Translation, Bookkeeping, and the Work of Imagination in Colonial Kenya (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004). He is co-editor of The Invention of Religion: Rethinking Belief in Politics and History (Rutgers University Press, 2002). His current research concerns the history of Christian revivalism in colonial eastern Africa.
Ato Quayson (Presenter) – Prof. Quayson is Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. He received his PhD in English from Cambridge University, where he taught for ten years. His research interests include postcolonial theory, African literature, culture, and society. He is the author of Strategic Transformations in Nigerian Writing (Indiana University Press, 1997), Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice, or Process? (Polity Press, 2000) and Calibrations: Reading for the Social (University of Minnesota Press, 2004). He is also co-editor (with David Theo Goldberg) of Relocating Postcolonialism (Blackwell, 2002). His current work-in-progress, Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press.
Vicente L. Rafael (Presenter) – Professor of History at the University of Washington, Seattle. He received his PhD in History from Cornell University. He is the author of Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society Under Early Spanish Rule (1993); White Love and Other Events in Filipino History (2000); and most recently, The Promise of the Foreign: Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines (2005) all published by Duke University Press.
Gauri Viswanathan (Presenter) – Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities and the Director of Southern Asian Institute at Columbia University. Professor Viswanathan received her Ph.D in English from Columbia University. Her research interests include intellectual history, education, religion, and culture, 19th-century British and colonial cultural studies and, history of disciplines. Her publications include Power, Politics and Culture: interviews with Edward W. Said (Pantheon Book, 2001) Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton University Press, 1998), and Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (Columbia University Press, 1989).
Jennifer Wenzel (Moderator) – Assistant Professor in English at the University of Michigan and is currently a visiting fellow at the Shelby Collum Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton University. Professor Wenzel earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary teaching and research interests include African and South Asian literatures in English, literatures of Third World liberation, and postcolonial theory. Her publications include: "Voices of Textual and Spectral Ancestors: Reading Tiyo Soga alongside H.I.E. Dhlomo's 'The Girl who Killed to Save'" in Research in African Literatures (Winter 2005); “Intertextual Africa: Chinua Achebe on the Congo, Patrice Lumumba on the Niger,” in African Writers and their Readers: Essays in African Literature in Honor of Bernth Lindfors (Africa World Press, 2002); “Letters of the Law: Women, Human Rights, and Epistolary Literature,” with Joseph Slaughter in Women, Gender, and Human Rights: A Global Perspective (Rutgers University Press, 2001); “Grim Fairy Tales: Taking a Risk, Reading Imaginary Maps,” in Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women's Texts (Garland, 2000); “The Pastoral Promise and the Political Imperative: The Plaasroman Tradition in an Era of Land Reform,” in Modern Fiction Studies (Spring 2000); “Epic Struggles over India's Forests in Mahasweta Devi's Short Fiction,” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics (1998). She is currently finishing a book manuscript entitled Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anti-colonial Millenarian Movements.