A grant to Emory University will support a research project on “The Global Politics of ‘Moderate Islam.’” An international, interdisciplinary team of scholars will explore how perspectives and practices of “moderate Islam” vary across the Muslim-majority countries of Egypt, Indonesia, and Morocco.
Specific areas of study will include how relief work with Christian charities may affect rural Muslims’ definition of moderation and how Indonesia’s government defines moderation domestically and internationally, while promoting the country as an example of Islam’s compatibility with democracy.
The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded an Emory University religion professor a highly competitive $305,000 grant to lead new international and interdisciplinary research on “moderate Islam.”
Jim Hoesterey, Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Religion in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, will co-lead a team of global scholars examining the widely differing concepts of “moderate Islam” across the Muslim-majority countries of Egypt, Indonesia and Morocco.
Hoesterey and Yasmin Moll of the University of Michigan will conduct their own research while leading five other scholars from the fields of religion, anthropology and political science. Vincent Cornell, Emory’s Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Middle East and Islamic Studies, is among the additional scholars.
According to Hoesterey, Western policy makers and civic leaders have used the term “moderate Islam” casually for years, differentiating it only from religious extremism. The project will focus on how the concept varies not only from Western perspectives but also within seemingly similar countries.
For instance, although Sunnis are the majority in Egypt and Morocco, the two governments (authoritarian and monarchy, respectively) create diverse ways for people to imagine and practice the idea of religious moderation, Hoesterey says.
“I’m very excited about the breadth of this interdisciplinary conversation and how a more nuanced understanding of this concept might create more opportunity for religious and cultural diplomacy,” Hoesterey says.