Thursday, September 26, 2013

A New Semester Has Begun! :)

So, a new semester has begun. In the name of God.

I've just started my third year. Things are getting more intense. There's pressures on many sides to get a lot of things done in order to be successful in academia. I dread thinking about how much work it all requires. If I had entered the PhD program with a Master's, I'd be doing my comprehensive exams next semester, giving my prospectus defense, and be considered a candidate by the end of the year. But happily and fortunately, I have this year to finish course work (that is, just take classes, no research), take the comps next year in Spring-ish, and then enter fieldwork the year after. Or so that's the plan. Hopefully and possibly, though, I can finish coursework earlier and do fieldwork earlier and that way get done with the dissertation earlier, but if that doesn't happen, no worries.

That said, the semester has started out well :) I'm doing well so far, although I could be doing better. So that's the plan, inshaAllah, to just work harder. Starting yoga classes and exercise to keep my sanity. Eating less outside and more inside. Making more new friends and being more involved in the community (mostly the Muslim community).

Classes-wise, I'm taking some really cool courses. There's a theory course I'm taking with this Pakistani professor who's so much fun to be around! We laugh so much in that class. Plus, he's a very kind person. Last Wednesday (Sept 18th) was my birthday, and a classmate wished me and then told the professor it was my b'day. So he felt bad that he didn't know and promised to bring cake in my honor for the next class. Class meets once a week, so that means yesterday (Wednesday), we had cake in class! God bless him for his generosity. Good people make this world such a pleasant place to live in, you know?

Then there's other class I'm taking; it's on methods and theory, mostly for Religious Studies students doing anthropological work, as mine tends to be and as my dissertation will be. It's an amazing class, really. So useful. I get out of that class so completely inspired, energetic, and ready to get up and change the world with my research, I swear. ha. Only, the class is so late in the day that by the time I get home, I'm too tired to be productive. So.

Then I'm taking French!!! French, y'all! Who'd have thought. Well, turns out that as an Islamic Studies student, I need, besides Arabic (obviously? That's the language of the main religious texts for Islam, so), a Western language and an "Islamic" language for research. For the Western language, German, French, and Spanish are common, although French and German more than Spanish. This is because ... well, think colonialism, colonialist literature and Islam, and that kinda stuff. North Africa was colonized by the French, and when Napoleon invaded the region, especially Egypt, he hired scholars, writers, anthropologists, and you-name-it to basically re-write Egyptian history. In the time period, also, there was an effort to subdue the spread of Islam, so Islam had to be studied and then interpreted and taught a certain way so that it's seen as a religion of the devil with a false prophet rather than as a legitimate religion on its own grounds. Point being, that is, that there's a ton of stuff on Islam and Muslims in French that still needs to be studied and translated. Whether or not I'll actually end up using French in my research at the time that the language is fresh in my head, I don't know. But I do know that I'm enjoying learning it a lot, and it's by no means a waste at all.

As for German, there's a LOT of literature on Islam in German, especially hadiths and Islamic law-related. Much of it remains un-translated. German, I think, would be more useful for those interested in Hadith Studies more than in law or exegesis or practice, though.

Also, think Islamic Studies and German/French, think orientalism. Google this term if you're not sure what it is, but it basically breaks down to seeing the "east" as an other, as mysterious, as "exotic" (I hate this word). It's also very much a sexualization of the "east"--though interestingly enough, while this "east" is on the one hand is sexualized and is full of harems with naked women serving men's pleasures, belly dancing to them and all, it is, on the other hand, so "oppressive" of its women all of whom are so sexually suppressed. I don't know how this contradiction is supposed to work and I don't know how we're expected to make sense of it.

Oh, and I'm not officially registered for the French class. Thank God that the French department allows us to audit courses for free as students. 'Cause, maaaaan oh man, it was stressful deciding over the summer how the heck I was to take care of my French requirement. 

So that's French and two theory/methods classes. OH! :D And then there's a course in Arabic on marriage, gender, and sexuality!! :D Taught by my adviser. It's awesome. We get to read all this fun literature, including hadith books and early texts (that read like hadiths) on marriage, women ... that kinda stuff.

I think that's all for now? I'll write more soon. I know I keep promising to blog more often, but it's really, really hard. I now feel more guilty than ever when I do something other than what I'm "supposed" to be doing, but I need to remember that blogging is important to me and it's a good break from everything else, so I need to do it. It's good for my soul, ya.

OH!!! Coming up, though, I'll talk about my trip to Canada this past weekend for a really awesome conference. It's worth talking about.

Peace to y'all! Stay good. Or just be good.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds exciting and you have given me an excuse to brush up on my High School French. It's great fun learning a language... I'm studying Arabic this year and is, insha'allah, coming together. All the best and you are in my dua'as ameen


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