Inaugural Visiting Lecturer: Brinkley Messick — Lecture Schedule

December 17, 2018

For the week of March 4, 2019, the IIS is pleased to host inaugural visiting lecturer Professor Brinkley Messick (Columbia University).  Over a period of three days, Professor Messick will give a book talk on his recent book Sharia Scripts; a master class for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty; and a public lecture at UTM.

Tuesday, March 5, 2010: Book Talk:  Sharia Scripts

Time and Location: TBD

Following a brief sketch of how Islamic law has been studied, and to what ends, Messick will argue for new methods and rationales. To do so, he will offer an inside-out version of his recent book, Sharīʿa Scripts.First, he will survey the book’s ethnographic foundations, foregrounding personalities, research relations and circumstances for the emergence of key insights. Second, he will review the types readings on which the book is also based–readings that were both solitary and participatory in nature and that crossed a spectrum of genres—highlighting examples of the pleasures and the understandings that are associated with the study of Islamic texts. The result amounts to an alternative, source-emphasizing account of the book’s interdisciplinary project, namely an “historical anthropology” of the Islamic sharīʿa.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019: Master Class

Time and Location: IIS Seminar Room, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (lunch provided)

This class will offer a sampler of reading methods, and a related set of study texts will be circulated in advance. Among the topics:

  • analyses keyed to the materiality of writings;
  • new approaches to genre;
  • features of composition;
  • the role of models;
  • discursive movements, temporalities and shifts of genre;
  • working with reflexive passages and metatexts; attending to minor discursive institutions, such as the mas’ala, the “case” or “problem,” and imlā’, or “dictation,” as one of several modes of orality; and
  • reading across the categories of ‘library’ and ‘archive,’ within a formation of texts.

Space for the master class is limited to 15 participants, preference being given to graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty (in that order). To apply for admission, please submit a 500 word statement of interest by 5 p.m. on February 1, 2019 to

Thursday, March 7, 2019: Public Lecture

Time and Location: TBD

This lecture addresses the contemporary and historical problem of Islamic governance. After a quick review that moves back in time from such disparate contemporary phenomena as the ISIS Caliphate, the several present day kingdoms, and the status of minority communities of Muslims as citizens of nation states, to the earlier advent of the Islamic Republic in Iran and, earlier, that of Pakistan, to the 20thcentury Khilafat Movement and the last decades of rule by sultan-caliphs under the Ottoman Empire, I present a little known but instructive case of legitimate Islamic sovereignty, discussing this polity both in terms of its doctrinal conception and its lengthy experience of on-the-ground governance.


Please check back here for updates for the times and venues of each talk.