Associate Professor of Science and Religion, Harvard Divinity School
"Islam as a Postcolony: Science, History and Modernism in the Making of Ethnoreligious Identities"
Abstract: In this paper, I look at the making of Islam as an ethno-religious and postcolonial identity through scientific and historical narratives. I argue that science-narratives contribute to the production of Islam as a global identity-to-be in a contextual exercise of meaning-making that deploys the present in writing a past and forging a chosen future. In this context, science-narratives become, at once, sites of colonization, engagement and resistance as they operate to formulate the collective identity that makes Muslims, and that links and separates them from Islam. Here, Islam is deployed to police the consumption of technoscience in a manner that distinguished between good and bad Muslims, and that questions the ability or worth of Muslims acquiring scientific knowledge. I argue that these scientific narratives, manifested through a colonial archive and invested in Eurocentric mythology, operate to develop new meanings of Islam, as a rarefied category, and Muslims, as an ur-identity.