Initiative on Contemporary Islamic Societies

The Harvard Initiative on Contemporary Islamic Societies is essentially a safe harbor for academics, human rights advocates, and policy specialists from across the Muslim world. It is a venue for substantive discussion at the intersection of human rights, Islamic studies and broader Muslim societal issues. It is directed by Vehbi Koç Professor of Turkish Studies Cemal Kafadar, Department of History.

The Initiative’s Oversight Committee also includes the following senior faculty from across the university:

  • Gurney Professor of History Roy Mottahedeh, also Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard,
  • Harvard Divinity School Dean, John Lord O’Brien Professor of Divinity, and Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies William A. Graham,
  • Professor of Islamic Religious Studies Baber Johansen, Acting Director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at the Harvard Law School,
  • Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy Samantha Power of the Kennedy School of Government, and Founding Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

Emran Qureshi and Derya Honça are co-founders and Program Managers in this venture. Emran Qureshi is a fellow at the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. Derya Honça is a staff member of the Harvard Kennedy School.

The Initiative's most recent workshop was held on October 24-25, 2014, titled Workshop on Military Regimes, Diversity and Sectarianism in Muslim Societies. Video of the event is available here.

The Initiative also sponsors events, and organized a workshop in October 2011 titled "Pluralism, Coexistence and Conflict: Majority and Minority Communities in Muslim Societies."