Fall 2023 Sciame Lecture Series: Tazeen M. Ali
Gender, Space, and National Belonging: The Women's Mosque of America
Thursday, Sep 28, 2023
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Sciame Auditorium (Room 107)
141 Convent Avenue
New York, NY 10031
This lecture will be in person and is part of the Fall 2023 Sciame Lecture Series, titled "Crosscurrents: Architecture, Landscape, and Spatial Practices in Southwest Asia and North Africa."
Tazeen M. Ali is a scholar of Islam and gender in the United States and is currently assistant professor of religion and politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research and teaching focus on Islam in America, women and religion, and Muslims in entertainment media and popular culture. She is the author of The Women's Mosque of America: Authority & Community in US Islam, published with NYU Press in November 2022. Her writing has also been published in Religion & Politics, The Conversation, and Middle East Eye. Ali earned her PhD in Religious Studies from Boston University in 2019.
"Gender, Space, and National Belonging: The Women's Mosque of America": In this talk, Tazeen M. Ali discusses her recent book The Women's Mosque of America: Authority & Community in US Islam (NYU Press, 2022). Her talk will explore how American Muslim women create and authorize new conceptions of authority at the Women's Mosque of America, a multi-racial woman-only mosque in Los Angeles. Its emergence speaks to a US mosque culture that has historically marginalized women through inadequate prayer spaces and limited access to leadership roles. The American Muslim women in this community form new configurations of religious authority and contest established patriarchal norms while simultaneously contending with domestic and global Islamophobia that renders their communities vulnerable to violence. In the process, they reimagine the spatial configuration of a mosque, in which they redefine what a mosque is and who it should serve. Drawing on textual analysis of WMA sermons and ethnographic interviews with community members, Ali shows how these American Muslim women use sacred scriptures to argue that mosques should be sites of inclusivity across gendered and racial lines. Overall, the Muslim women in this community establish themselves as meaningful actors within the fabric of American religious life and legitimize specific ways of being American Muslims.
Suggested Reading: Tazeen M. Ali, Introduction to “The Women's Mosque of America: Authority & Community in US Islam" (NYU Press, 2022).
"Crosscurrents: Architecture, Landscape, and Spatial Practices in Southwest Asia and North Africa" probes the radical reimagining of the region compelled by the expression Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA). In recent years, the acronym SWANA has gained currency among architects, landscape architects, urbanists, and historians who conceptualize the territories of the Middle East and North Africa through geography and place rather than colonial frameworks. The term “Middle East” was a British invention, a tool used to advance colonialism in a region where so many national borders resulted from imperialist interventions. In the Fall 2023 Sciame Lecture Series, groundbreaking designers, scholars, practitioners, and activists chart multiple—and sometimes competing—currents in the architecture of the region and its diasporas, while displacing essentializing colonial narratives. To do so, speakers from across the area shed light on global, transnational, and diasporic human stories about design, space, landscape, and architecture in SWANA, and advance new ideas about territory, buildings, places, histories, and belonging.
All lectures are free, open to the public, and held in the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture Sciame Auditorium.
See https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/return-campus for current requirements for in-person visitors.
This lecture series is made possible by the Spitzer Architecture Fund and the generous support of Frank Sciame ’74, CEO of Sciame Construction.