For Love of the Prophet: The Art of Islamic State-Making in Sudan

Please join us on Monday, April 23, at 3:30 PM in Denny 203. Noah Salomon will lecture on "For Love of the Prophet: The Art of Islamic State-Making in Sudan."

Noah Salomon (B.A., Reed College; M.A., Ph.D. University of Chicago) teaches courses in Islamic Studies and the anthropology of religion at Carleton College. His first book, For Love of the Prophet: An Ethnography of Sudan's Islamic State, was published by Princeton University Press in 2016. Other recent research has focused on the establishment of state secularism in South Sudan as a mode of unraveling the Islamic State, and the concomitant construction of a Muslim minority as part of a nascent project of nation-building. Salomon was a member at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) in the School of Social Science for the 2013–14 academic year and has been part of recent collaborative grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (on Islamic epistemologies in Africa) and the Islam Research Programme, Netherlands (on religious minorities in the two Sudans following partition).

For some, the idea of an Islamic state serves to fulfill aspirations for cultural sovereignty and new forms of ethical political practice. For others, it violates the proper domains of both religion and politics. Yet, while there has been much discussion of the idea and ideals of the Islamic state, its possibilities and impossibilities, surprisingly little has been written about how this political formation is staged and experienced in the cloud of contingencies that make up modern political life. Based on more than ten years of fieldwork in the Republic of Sudan, this lecture will examine the nature of an Islamic state by exploring its formation not only as a political ideal, but as an aesthetic and epistemic provocation, at the culmination of a particularly unstable period of Sudanese history.  Paying particular attention to the intricate means through which the desire for Islamic politics is produced and sustained, this talk goes beyond the often speculative conclusions about Islamic politics as a response to the West, and examines it as a node in a much deeper conversation within Islamic thought, augmented and reworked as Sudan’s own Islamist experiment became an object of debate and controversy.  Reading from and reflecting on his recent book, For Love of the Prophet: An Ethnography of Sudan’s Islamic State, Salomon will interrogate our scholarly understanding of Islamic politics, reassessing the categories commonly used to evaluate and understand it.