Please join our colleagues for this talk, held at 5 p.m. on November 26 in Keene-Flint 005. The talk is sponsored by the Alexander Grass Chair in Jewish Studies as part of the Mediterranean and North African Jewish History Speaker Series. Dr. Cengiz Sisman from the University of Houston- Clear Lake will be speaking on Sabbatean Communities in the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic. Flyer, abstract, and bio below:


Sabbatai Sevi, a seventeen century Ottoman Jewish messianic claimant, led one of the largest religious movements in Jewish and Islamic history. When Ottoman authorities forced Sevi to convert to Islam in 1666, his followers formed a crypto-sect, later known as Dönmes and maintained their overtly Muslim and covertly Jewish enigmatic identity over centuries. By using flexible and multiple identities to stymie external interference, the Dönmes were able to survive despite persecution from Ottoman authorities, internalizing the Kabbalistic principle of a “burden of silence”. Although they began to abandon their religious identities and embrace modern ideas since the nineteenth century, cultural Dönmes continued to adopt the “burden of silence” in a secular form in order to cope with external and internal challenges until today.


Cengiz Sisman earned his MA in Islamic and Jewish studies at Temple University and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University.  Since the fall of 2015, Dr. Sisman has been serving as an associate professor of history at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. His book, “The Burden of Silence: Sabbatai Sevi and the Evolution of the Ottoman-Turkish Donmes,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2015. His work is connected by his deep interest in the history of religions, religious conversion, irreligion, messianism, mysticism, crypto-double identities, and religion and modernity. Currently, he is teaching courses on world history, Islamic empires, and the modern Middle East.



Please join the CGIS and the Religion Department in welcoming Dr. John Kelsay to campus on October 31 for a lecture on ISIS and their contemporary vision of the Islamic state. The lecture will be on October 31 at 5:30 p.m. at 215 Dauer Hall. We look forward to hosting Dr. Kelsay and hope to see many of our colleagues there.

Flyer below:

The Center for Global Islamic Studies will be hosting a workshop, “Muslim Youth and Lived in Africa and Beyond” on October 18 and 19 at Grinter Hall, Room 404. The workshop will feature a keynote by Filippo Osella, “Becoming Muslim in South India,” and papers by Kae Amo, Mamadou Bodian, Musa Ibrahim, Frederick Madore, and Kimberly Wortmann. The workshop will begin with the keynote on October 18 at 5 p.m. and continue on October 19, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

See the flyer below for more details:

Zheyuan Deng

Deng earned his B.A. in history and Arabic in 2015 from Peking University, China, and his M.A. in African history from the same university in 2018.  His Master’s thesis focused on the collection, translation and research of the Arabic manuscripts in the Hausaland. He is interested in Islam in Africa, African traditional religions, history writing and issues concerning migration, ethnicity and identity.

Zachary Faircloth

Zachary Faircloth is an incoming Masters student from Longs, South Carolina. He received his B.A. in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University where his undergraduate research focused on the institutional memory of Sheikh ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam in Palestine. His research interests include interaction between Salafism and the state, transnational Islamic discourses on Palestine, and the role of Islamism in the Levant. Zach plans to pursue his Ph.D. and a career in academia after the completion of his Master’s program.




Macodou Fall

Macodou graduated from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal with a B.A. and an M.A in English. He then completed another M.A. in African Studies at Ohio University in Athens. Macodou is interested in the study of Islam, Ajami literature, traditional religions and popular culture in West Africa with a focus on the Sufi order, the Muridiyya. His research project seeks to explore Murid urban associations’ (dahiras’) teaching methodologies, including the use of Ajami Wolof. Macodou is fluent in Wolof, French and English and has taught Wolof at Ohio University.