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Providential Modernity Seminar with Ellen McLarney

October 31, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Providential modernity

The next Providential Modernity seminar will meet at 1:00PM on Thursday, October 31, in Classroom Building 229. Professor Ellen McLarney (AMES) will give a brief presentation followed by discussion of her new scholarship. She explains:

“Black Arts, Black Muslims, and Modern Religiosity” looks at Black American conversion to Islam in the second half of the twentieth century. Scholarship has largely focused on Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, but has not explored a vast literature written by Muslim converts, activists, and writers that details the reasons for their identification with Islam. This project looks at the role played by Islam in the struggle for racial justice during the civil rights era partly through radical religion rooted in Islam and tracks the emergence of new forms of Black religiosity. I do so by looking at the cultural artifacts circulated by these Islamic social movements, a kind of Islamic popular culture that helped constitute a Black counterpublic in the face of the a dominantly white, Christian American public sphere.

A vegetarian lunch will be served. Email Amber Díaz Pearson to receive a copy of the paper.

The Providential Modernity seminar brings together faculty and graduate students from several area universities on a monthly basis to discuss work in the areas of history, political theology, and comparative sociology from Antiquity to the present. A key goal of the seminar is to place scholars of religion into conversation with one another and address scholarly challenges emerging from the post-secular age. “Providential modernity” encompasses a variety of social and political hopes, as well as anxieties, about the promise of history, sometimes expressed in millenarianism and apocalypticism, at other times in peaceful theodicies. In modern times, secular surrogates for providentialism found expression in revolution, social change, and the transformation of knowledge — ideas that have been conceptualized from Hegel to Fukuyama in discussions of the End of History. Many put their “faith” in “providential modernity,” while others, in despair, denied that history had any meaning at all. At the core of our deliberations will be an effort to deepen our grasp of the ways in which religions, Western and Eastern, both converge and differ in their understanding of providentialism, and how scholars may respond to the powerful working of religion in the postmodern age.


October 31, 2019
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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Kenan Institute for Ethics


Classroom Building 229