“Safe Harbors” : Exploring Women’s Spaces of Solace and Refuge in American Islam
A talk by Sylvia Chan-Malik / Saturday, March 16, 2019 / 3 pm / $10
In her talk, Sylvia Chan-Malik discusses how issues of safety and solace—which are at once physical, emotional, and spiritual—have been central to women’s engagements with Islam in the United States. In particular, she will address how spiritual practices of Islam and women’s desires to engage Divine Love have operated as and produced sites of refuge from the effects of racism, sexism, poverty, and other societal ills at various moments in time. Borrowing author Toni Morrison’s concept of the “safe harbor,” Dr. Chan-Malik’s talk will discuss how such spaces of safety have shifted and evolved for various communities of U.S. Muslim women across the past century, how seeking solace is intertwined to women’s desires for justice, and what lessons we may learn from how U.S. Muslim women have historically sought refuge in Islam.
Sylvia Chan-Malik is Associate Professor in the Departments of American and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where she directs the Social Justice Program and teaches courses on race and ethnicity in the United States, Islam in/and America, social justice movements, feminist methodologies, and multiethnic literature and culture in the U.S. She is the author of Being Muslim: A Cultural History of Women of Color in American Islam (NYU Press, 2018), which offers an alternative narrative of American Islam in the 20th-21st century that centers the lives, subjectivities, voice, and representations of women of color. Her writings are also featured in numerous anthologies, including With Stones in Our Hands: Writings on Muslim, Racism, and Empire (UMinn Press, 2018), Routledge Handbook of Islam in the West(Routledge, 2015), and The Cambridge Companion to American Islam (Cambridge, 2013), and in scholarly journals, such as Amerasia, CUNY Forum, Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion, and The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She speaks frequently on issues of U.S. Muslim politics and culture, Islam and gender, and racial and gender politics in the U.S., and her commentary has appeared in venues such as Slate News, The Intercept, Daily Beast, PRI, Huffington Post, Patheos, Religion News Service, and others. She holds a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Mills College.