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Anthropologist is Reed College’s Third Carnegie Scholar in Five Years


The project will contribute to a deeper understanding of the intersection of ethnic and religious politics within the Islamic world and will result in a book-length study. This project builds on Silverstein's 2004 book, Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race, and Nation (Indiana University Press 2004).


PORTLAND, OR (April 14, 2008)—For the third time in the past five years, a member of the Reed College faculty is a Carnegie Scholar. Anthropology professor Paul A. Silverstein has been selected for his pioneering work on memory and violence in the Middle East and North Africa. The new Carnegie Scholars were honored for their compelling ideas and commitment to enriching the quality of the public dialogue on Islam. Carnegie Corporation of New York provides funding, with two-year grants of up to $100,000, and intellectual support to well-established and promising young thinkers, analysts, and writers. 

Commenting on the 2008 Carnegie Scholars and the program’s current focus on Islam, the Corporation’s president, Vartan Gregorian, said, “We are cultivating a diverse scholarly community spanning a range of disciplines with the expectation that their voices will help Americans develop a more complex understanding of Muslim societies here and throughout the world—revealing Islam’s rich diversity. Only through vibrant dialogue, guided by bold and nuanced scholarship, can we move public thinking into new territory.”

Silverstein will focus on how claims to indigenous secularism and non-orthodox religious practice by minority Muslim ethnic groups have gained new political currency.  By tracing the intersection between Berber-speaking secularists and Islamic politics in the transnational space linking countries across the western Mediterranean, Silverstein will investigate how the Berber Diaspora in secular Western states influences new developments in ethnic and religious affairs in their Muslim-majority countries of origin.  The project will contribute to a deeper understanding of the intersection of ethnic and religious politics within the Islamic world and will result in a book-length study. This project builds on Silverstein's 2004 book, Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race, and Nation (Indiana University Press 2004).

Silverstein, one of 20 scholars named this year, joins fellow Reed faculty members Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, associate professor of religion and humanities, and Darius Rejali, professor of political science, who received the honor in 2005 and 2003, respectively. GhaneaBassiri has worked extensively in Morocco in the past several years; he is a preemininent scholar of Islam in America. His work includes Competing Visions of Islam in the United States: A Study of Los Angeles (Greenwood Press 1997). Rejali has studied the politics of Iran and is a leading scholar of torture. His books include Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in Modern Iran (Westview Press 1994) and the comprehensive Torture and Democracy (Princeton University Press 2007).