Anna Bigelow | Thinking with Islamic Things

This is an Archive of a Past Event


What makes a thing Islamic?

This talk considers the ways in which objects can be understood as being Islamic and how different orientations within Islam inhabit material cultures in specific ways.

Though Islam’s reputation for iconophobia and a categorical antipathy to most forms of material mediation is well known to be overblown, more work remains to be done to situate somatic and object-oriented approaches within Islamic Studies and Religious Studies. Engaging her forthcoming edited volume Islam through Objects (Bloomsbury, 2021), Professor Bigelow will reflect on recent work on Islam and material culture to discuss the value of bringing Islam to the center of interdisciplinary conversations, in this case with art and art history, anthropology, history, and Religious Studies.

About the Series

In 1891, thirty-five scholars gathered to form a community in a new university. In that spirit, we come together to welcome new senior faculty members of the Stanford community to present their work. Following this lecture, there will be opportunity for Q&A with Professor Bigelow.

Anna Bigelow is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. She received her MA from Columbia University (1995) and PhD in Religious Studies from UC Santa Barbara (2004) with a focus on South Asian Islam. Bigelow's current book project is a comparative study of shared sacred sites in India and Turkey, exploring how everyday devotional life in shared spaces illuminates the shifting terrain of these ambivalently secular states. Another project traces the lives of devotional objects circulated by Muslims, Hindus, and others around a Sufi tomb shrine in India. She is editor and contributor to an edited volume on material objects in Islamic cultures, Islam through Objects (Bloomsbury, 2021). Bigelow’s earlier work, Sharing the Sacred: Practicing Pluralism in Muslim North India (Oxford University Press, 2010), is a study of a Muslim majority community in Indian Punjab and the shared sacred and civic spaces in that community.