The Jewish-Muslim Research Network (JMRN) was started in April 2019 by Adi Saleem Bharat and Katharine Hall at the University of Manchester. An interdisciplinary and international initiative, the JMRN brings together academics whose research focuses on Jews, Muslims, and the relations and interactions between them. The JMRN aims to provide a forum for productive discussions and debates among researchers from different fields whose work is at the forefront of a line of academic inquiry that has produced creative and critical scholarship in recent years.
The JMRN’s current coordinators are Adi Saleem Bharat, Katharine Hall, and Flora Hastings. Adi, who is a faculty member in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, researches race and religion, particularly in relation to Jews and Muslims, in contemporary French society. Katharine is an Arabic-English translator and PhD student at the CUNY Graduate Center focusing on Egyptian Jewish history. Flora is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at SOAS whose research comparatively explores “progressive” forms of Jewish and Muslim identity in contemporary Barcelona.
Since 2019, the network has been constantly growing and currently counts over one hundred and fifty members across Europe, North America, and the Middle East, representing a variety of disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, political science, history, religion and theology, literature, linguistics, area studies, and cultural studies. Members range from students to tenured professors – we are committed to fostering meaningful academic relationships between scholars at different stages of their career.
Our inaugural May 2020 conference, entitled “Beyond ‘Jewish-Muslim Relations’”, with keynote lectures by Seth Anziska (UCL), Yulia Egorova (Durham University), and Brian Klug (Oxford University), was postponed indefinitely as a result of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the 2019-2020 academic year was an eventful one. As part of our seminar series in Manchester that year, Brahim El Guabli (Williams College, USA) delivered a lecture on images of Jews in French and Arabic “mnemonic literature” in Morocco, Esra Özyürek (LSE) lectured on holocaust memories and immigrant integration in Germany, Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed (Calem Institute) presented his research on the diversity of genders and sexualities in Islam, Aaron W. Hughes (University of Rochester, USA) spoke on the topic of alterity in medieval Islam, and Samuel Sami Everett (Cambridge) spoke on the vast, diverse field of “Jewish-Muslim dialogue” in France.
In addition, in December 2019, the network hosted a symposium on gender and sexuality in/around Judaism and Islam. Following the symposium, Adi Saleem Bharat has begun putting together an edited book tentatively titled Queer Jews, Queer Muslims: Race, Religion, and Representation.
Together with the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester, we also held a panel on the theme of identity, belonging, and alienation in Jewish Studies with Aaron W. Hughes, Samuel Sami Everett, Alexander Samely (Manchester), and Katja Stuerzenhofecker (Manchester).
Prior to the pandemic, we also held regular reading groups in Manchester and London. One upside of the lockdown has been that we have now moved our activities online and have thus been able welcome scholars from across the world to our online reading group over the last few months.
We also recently held our first online seminar – on Jews, Muslims, and secularism, with Brian Klug (Oxford University) and Sultan Doughan (Boston University) – on 18 June. Finally, on 30 July, we hosted an online launch for the recently published book by JMRN member Robert Phillips (Ball State University), Virtual Activism: Sexuality, the Internet, and a Social Movement in Singapore (Toronto University Press, 2020).