Our latest episode tells the story of how Islam arrived in America, possibly as early as the 1400s on ships from Europe and West Africa.
We have two guests on this episode. One is Sylviane Diouf, a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University. She has written of the role that Islam played in the lives of African Muslims enslaved in the Americas. Our other guest is Dr Hussein Rashid, assistant dean for Religion and Public Life at Harvard Divinity School, whose research focuses on Muslims and US popular culture.
Not everyone sees the “Daredevil” images as only antisemitic. “The image also seems to pull on anti-Arab imagery,” said Hussein Rashid, an independent scholar whose focus is religion and comics.
“The use of symbols against an adversary or The Adversary is quite common in comics,” said Rashid, adding that “comics, not just Marvel, are replete with images and storylines that continue to reinforce narratives of marginalization.”
Though he admits that the comics companies are improving on this score, “these tropes need to be pointed out.”
“You can’t go more than a block without finding a house of worship in New York City, an actively used house of worship,” said Hussein Rashid, a scholar of religion with The New School and Union Theological Seminary.
While accurate and up-to-date data on the state of religious identity in the five boroughs is hard to find, Rashid and other scholars say the city is as spiritually diverse as it’s ever been, even as religious affiliation is declining here in step with the rest of the country.
Visotzky brought in theologian Hussein Rashid ’96CC, who was exploring similar questions from a Muslim ethical standpoint. The scholars, who had spun off from a larger interfaith study group at Fordham Law School, decided to examine the issue of water as a way to focus their work, and for World Water Day 2017 they published a series of tracts around water-related themes. That got them invited to the Vatican to meet with the pope about Laudato si’.
“For me, reading the encyclical made me think of an eighth-century figure named Ja‘far al-Ṣādiq,” says Rashid, who teaches at the New School and UTS. “There’s a work attributed to him where he says for a believer there are four relationships that keep you in balance: to God, to yourself, to other people, and to the rest of creation. My understanding of what Pope Francis was doing really resonated with that.”
In this discussion, panelists talk about the true power of the arts to shape cities and policies and strengthen the ties between us. For this conversation, scholar Hussein Rashid is joined by Lydia Cotton and Marty Pottenger. Lydia Cotton is the co-founder of the Art Pot in Hanahan, South Carolina—our state’s first Hispanic multicultural center providing arts programming for kids and adults. Lydia is actively involved with the Hispanic community in the Charleston area, a tireless advocate of its people—making sure they are aware of their rights and their resources. A celebrated playwright, Marty Pottenger is also the founder of Art at Work, a national arts initiative that partners with communities and governments that uses creativity and the performing and visual arts to address non-arts based challenges.
In this discussion, three artists and scholars talk about the intersection of art and history as well as art and politics and cultural diplomacy. How do performances shape our understanding of history—and how might politics shape our understanding of art? The panelists will also speak about America’s position as a global arts leader, and how its position has changed or been challenged over time. Moderator Dr. Hussein Rashid is joined by South African musician Kyla-Rose Smith and Georgian theater director Paata Tsikurishvili.
What role should the performing arts play in education and the teaching of history? Spoleto Festival USA’s 2022 season looked at the power of the arts to reveal untold histories, especially those of marginalized people and groups whose stories are not widely shared or known. Works like Omar and Unholy Wars, for example, asked us to not only look at history, but ask why those histories are told and who is telling it.