2022 Schedule

The Project on Shi'ism and Global Affairs at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs presents

The 2nd International Symposium on Diversity and Unity in Transnational Shi’a Islam

 Monday, May 9th to Friday, May 13th, 2022 | 25+ Speakers, 5 Panels


A historic symposium series bringing together diverse voices from leading scholars of Shi’a thought and identity across Zaydi, Ismaili, Alevi, Alawite, Bektashi, & Twelver Ja'fari Muslim traditions and beyond at Harvard University.  


Monday, May 9th

Welcome & Opening Remarks
10:45AM – 11:00AM EDT | 7:45AM - 8:00AM PDT 


Keynote Address
11:00AM – 12:00PM EDT | 8:00AM - 9:00AM PDT

  • Devin Stewart (Emory University) - Abu al-Fath al-Karajiki as a Nexus between Twelver and Isma'ili Shi'ism  

Panel 1 | Intra-Shi’a Dialogue and Community Building in the West: Peace-Building and Civil Society
12:15PM – 1:45PM EDT | 9:15AM - 10:45AM PDT



  • Najah Bazzy (Zaman International) - Ethical Leadership and Transcultural Practice: Faith-Based Community Development in the United States

  • Hüseyin Çiçek (University of Vienna) - Alevis in Austria and Germany

  • Amin Mawji (Aga Khan Development Network) - Driving Change Through Civil Society Collaborations: Lessons from the Front Line

  • Yousef M. Hamidaddin (Managing Partner, Venture X) - Zaydi Identity and the Absence of a Diaspora 

  • Rizwan Arastu (Islamic Texts Institute) - Where do Truth Claims Fit in Intrafaith Dialogue?



Tuesday, May 10th


Panel 2 | The Imamate across Shi’a Traditions
1:00PM – 2:30PM EDT | 10:00AM - 11:30AM PDT



  • Maria De Cillis (Institute of Ismaili Studies) - Shiʿi Islam, Philosophy and the Greek Intellectual Legacy

  • Mohammad Sagha (University of Chicago) - Redemptive Eschatology and the Mahdi across Shi'a Confessions in the Early Islamic Period 

  • Seyfeddin Kara (University of Toronto) -  Leadership in Precarious Times: The Tenth Imam al-Hadi in the era of Inquisition (Mihna)

  • Yahya Alshamy (George Mason University) -  Imamate and Governance in the Zaydi Tradition 

  • Deniz Coşan Eke (University of Vienna) -  Dedes as Religious Leaders of the Alevi community in National Culture and Transnational Space



Wednesday, May 11th


Panel 3 | Ismaili Traditions in Central and South Asia
1:00PM – 2:30PM EDT | 10:00AM - 11:30AM PDT



  • Dagi Dagiev (Institute of Ismaili Studies) - Central Asian Ismailis and their Traditions

  • Yahia Baiza (Institute of Ismaili Studies) - Ismaili History and Traditions in Afghanistan: A Sociological and Historical Analysis

  • Sumaiya Hamadani (George Mason University) - Tradition and Ta'wil in the Construction of Bohra Identity in South Asia   
  • Hussain Jasani (Institute of Ismaili Studies) - Kalām-i Hazrat Sūltānil Aulīā or Kalām-e Maulā, a Satpanth Lyrical Text: Shared Heritage of Khoja Sunnis, Khoja Ithna 'Asharis and Ismailis from South Asia

  • Olly Akkerman (Freie Universität Berlin) - Bohra Ritual Life: Everyday Practices and the Sacred Materiality of Objects 



Thursday, May 12th


Panel 4 | Comparative Approaches towards Shi’a Theology and Philosophy
2:00PM – 3:30PM EDT | 11:00AM - 12:30AM PDT



  • Orkhan Mir-Kasimov (Institute of Ismaili Studies) - Ismaili and Sufi Doctrines of Messianic Age, 4th-7th/10th-13th Centuries

  • Nicholas Boylston (Seattle University) - Paradigms of Ethics in the Twelver Shii Tradition: A Schematic Approach

  • Scott Lucas (University of Arizona) - Islamic Theology in Thirty Topics: A Zaydi contribution to Islamic thought

  • Paul Walker (University of Chicago) - Survival and Loss: the Preservation and Recovery of the Arabic Legacy of Ismaili (Fatimid) Shiism in Modern Times



Friday, May 13th


Panel 5 | Shi’a Identities and Politics in the Modern Levant and Turkey
1:00PM – 2:30PM EDT | 10:00AM - 11:30AM PDT



  • Rula Abisaab (McGill University) - Ambiguity and Interfaith Dialogues: Making and Unmaking Bonds between the Isma'ili Druze and the Twelver Shi'a in Lebanon

  • Aurelie Daher (Paris-Dauphine University) - Lebanese Shi'a and Hezbollah: A Mutually Impacting Relationship 

  • Aghiad Ghanem (Sciences Po) - Becoming a Minority: Alawites and Identity Politics in Syria

  • Mustafa Sen (Middle East Technical University) - State-Religion Relations and Alevis in Turkey

  • Seyed Amir Hossein Asghari (Indiana University) - Baba Rexheb and the Bektashi Order: Between Sufism and Shi'ism



Closing Remarks
2:30PM EDT | 11:30AM PDT

See also: 2022