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Telling different stories

The Latin America & Caribbean Islamic Studies Newsletter Vol. 2, no. 2 (January 2022)

In Staying with the Trouble (2016), Donna J. Haraway writes that stories matter. It also matters who tells those stories and how we tell them. Our field of study is founded on the notion that giving more attention to voices and perspectives that challenge established canons and conventional discourses will create a more complex picture of global Islam and the Americas. The resulting narratives that emerge are multifarious and non-linear, overlapping and entangled. They take what was on the margins and make it central, opening up the world — and our apperception of it — to new horizons.

In this edition, we have contributions from storytellers telling different tales, creating new chronicles, and challenging established frames. From perspectives on the “Muslim woman” to the meaning of center-periphery relations for people from the supposed margins, from the Black diaspora to the importance of collecting “stories” to share with others.

Dr. Cynthia Hernández González's work not only opens up new horizons in the study of Islam and Muslims in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also forces scholars to consider the categories we operate with and question the regimes of power our research and publications are situated in (and perhaps complicit with). I invite you read Dr. González's contribution to our newsletter and consider along with her and her interlocutors: "¿En quiénes pensamos cuando hablamos de las mujeres musulmanas? La develación de nuestra mentalidad colonizada" ("Who do we think of when we talk about Muslim women? The unveiling of our colonized mentality"). One set of stories that has enjoyed sustained academic attention over the years is that of African Muslims enslaved in the Americas. Various scholars have shared these stories, connecting them to numerous contemporary socialities, cultures, and movements. In an effort to further share these stories, and highlight the academic work that analyzes them, I wrote a piece with New Lines Mag entitled, "The enduring legacy of Black Muslims in the Americas." The piece explores how the legacy of Black Muslims in Americas and their centuries-long experience might help us better understand and address contemporary currents of Islamophobia, anti-Muslim bias, and racism in the Americas. Over the last year-and-a-half, our editor Giulia Brabetz has been working diligently on several projects related to the stories we share in this newsletter and through our network. A significant amount of her time was spent researching, collating, and annotating a slew of articles, books, chapters, and other resources that now make up The Américan Muslims Bibliography. While Giulia will soon be moving on with her studies and professional career, she does not only grace us with the bibliography itself, but also with some reflections on the why, what, and how of such work in her essay, "How to Build a Digital Annotated Bibliography." We wish Giulia all the best in the future and thank her, for her contributions to this newsletter and the stories we share in our field! Our "In the News" section picks up again on the theme of "marginal stories" to highlight popular takes on the Black diaspora and the Arab diaspora (mahjar) in the Americas. On the operational side of things, the last few months have seen the addition of new team members to help tell these stories. Rahma Maccarone (Georgetown University) and Jorge Araneda (Ankara YB University) both joined to help us with translations of articles into Spanish. I invite you to learn more about their research and how you can contribute to the newsletter by taking an active part in our growing network. Finally, amidst our calls for contributions are two special notes: 1) the last notification about submissions to a possible special issue of the International Journal of Latin American Religions (31 January 2022) and 2) a member note from a recent congress hosted by colleagues in Mexico, France, and Turkey. I thank you, as always, for your time and consideration -- not only in reading and responding to the newsletter, but to your contributions to our burgeoning field. May we continue to tell stories that matter, stories from the so-called margins.


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