Previous Snouck Hurgronje Lectures

Since 2003 the Oosters Instituut organizes a biennial lecture which is delivered by an internationally renowned authority on one of its fields of interest. These lectures are named after the first president of the Foundation`s board, Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje. The lectures are public and admission is free. The Foundation wishes, by organizing these lectures, to contribute to the public debate in an original and stimulating way.

Fifth Snouck Hurgronje lecture, Thursday 3 November 2011:

‘Shariah, Snouck, and Europe’ by John R. Bowen
Time: 17.00-19.00 hours. Location: Lipsius building, lecture room 003 (Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden).
On Thursday 3 November 2011, LUCIS, in cooperation with the Foundation “Oosters Instituut” in Leiden organised the LUCIS 3rd Annual Lecture = the 5th Snouck Hurgronje Lecture. The lecture was delivered by Professor John R. Bowen.

Snouck Hurgronje’s concerns for the dangers posed by Islamic legalism are echoed by many in Europe today. Now as 100 years ago, we most need a more empirically-grounded understanding of practices which refer to shariah, which range from ethical concerns to those domains termed ‘legal’ in Europe. To that end, John Bowen will propose to examine the range of practices associated with shariah councils in England.

About John Bowen
John Bowen is the Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St Louis. He studies problems of pluralism, law, and religion, and in particular contemporary efforts to rethink Islamic norms and law in Asia, Europe, and North America. His most recent book on Asia is Islam, Law and Equality in Indonesia: An Anthropology of Public Reasoning (Cambridge, 2003), and his Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves (Princeton, 2007) concerned current debates in France on Islam and laïcité. His book Can Islam be French? (Princeton, 2009) treats Muslim debates and institutions in France (and appeared in French in 2011), and will be followed by A New Anthropology of Islam from Cambridge and Blaming Islam from MIT Press, both in 2012. He also writes regularly for The Boston Review. His current two research projects concern shariah and civil law in England, and Islamic courts and property disputes in Indonesia.

Fourth Snouck Hurgronje lecture, 6 March 2009:

Fifty years of Economic and Intellectual Dependence: Arab Economic Development and the West
Kamerlingh Onnes Gebouw (KOG), Steenschuur 25, Leiden, Lorentz Room

On Friday 6 March 2009 Prof. Galal A. Amin (Professor of Economics, American University in Cairo) delivered the fourth Snouck Hurgronje lecture: Fifty Years of Economic and Intellectual Dependence: Arab Economic Development and the West.
A little more than fifty years ago, for the Arab countries – together with the rest of what was then called ‘The Third World’ – , the words ‘Economic Development’ seemed to summarize most of their economic and social ambitions after gaining independence. During the following five decades, all these countries have adopted, for the concept of Economic Development, the definitions presented by Western authors and U.N. organizations; hence, in designing and implementing policies, they have faithfully followed the advice of ‘foreign experts’, who were mainly western economists and international bureaucrats. Whenever intellectual fashions changed in the West, sometimes from one thing to its very opposite, the Arabs promptly followed suit. After fifty years of such economic and intellectual dependence, the results seem to be quite dismal, the economic achievements being rather modest and the social, cultural, and political prices being far too high.

For more information about Prof. Galal A. Amin see Youssef Rakha’s review of his autobiography in Al-Ahram Weekly of 9-15 August 2007. See also on Prof. Amin’s other essay collections in English: The Illusion of Progress in the Arab World. A Critique of Western Misconstructions (Cairo 2006) (pdf), (info), Whatever Else Happened to the Egyptians? (Cairo 2004) (pdf), (info) and Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? (Cairo 2000) (pdf), (info).

Third Snouck Hurgronje lecture, 16 February 2007: How can Mecca be saved?

On 16 February 2007 Dr. Sami Angawi (architect, Amar Center, Jeddah/Boston) delivered the third Snouck Hurgronje lecture: How can Mecca be saved?
In his lecture Dr. Angawi treated the dangers of an unlimited urban development for the old city centre of Mecca. But the scope of the subject is in fact far wider. All over the world the old is rapidly being replaced by the new, but this is not necessarily always an improvement. Mecca is not a town like any other, but the very centre and heart of Islam and only muslims can enter it. Islam`s earliest history took place here. Millions of pilgrims visit the Holy City every year. How can one then preserve what is valuable and, at the same time, cope with the necessities of the modern age?

Second Snouck Hurgronje lecture, 11 March 2005: Paper and its Impact on Islamic Culture

Prof. Jonathan Bloom (Norma Jean Calderwood University Professor of Islamic and Asian Art, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA), delivered the second Snouck Hurgronje lecture `Paper in the Islamic lands`.
A manuscript in Leiden University Library (Cod. Or. 298) containing a large portion of Abu Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam`s Gharib al-Hadith, concerning unusual terms in the traditions of the prophet Muhammad, is dated 252 H (866 CE), making it the oldest dated Arabic manuscript on paper in Europe. Prof. Bloom`s talk concerned not only the author and the content of the book, but also the new script in which the book was written as well as the new medium of paper on which the manuscript was copied. Paper, which had been invented in China in the centuries before Christ, was introduced to the Muslim lands following the Arabs` conquest of western Central Asia in the early eighth century. Muslims quickly replaced papyrus and parchment with paper because it was relatively cheap and could be made anywhere. The new medium encouraged people to write on an increased range of topics from the serious to the silly and inspired calligraphers to develop new styles of writing that were easier to write and more legible for an increasingly-literate public.

First Snouck Hurgronje lecture, 14 February 2003: Muslim intellectuals: A crisis of identity?

Dr. Ahdaf Soueif (novelist, London/Cairo), delivered the first Snouck Hurgronje lecture `Muslim intellectuals: A crisis of identity?` Dr. Ahdaf Soueif examined what is perceived in the west as a crisis of identity. She proposed that it is simply the debate about political reform, religious reform, and the relationship between the two that has been taking place in the Arab and Muslim worlds since the end of the last century.