Recipient of a Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship, 2018-2019
Basit Iqbal is an academic editor and a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology and the Program in Critical Theory at UC Berkeley. He holds a BA (University of Alberta) in critical theory and a MA (University of Toronto) in religious studies. His work addresses the contemporary inheritance of Islamic traditions, generally concerning questions of temporality and genre raised and ruined in the Levantine/Mediterranean articulation of theodicy and migration. Supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada), his multi-sited dissertation fieldwork explores formations of religious humanitarianism amid the European refugee crisis. His project asks how the practices of Muslim humanitarians and refugees remake the notion of Islamic community (umma) in the wake of the ongoing Syrian war. Based in ethnographic research on projects of Syrian refugee support and settlement in Jordan and Canada, his dissertation approaches the doctrine and practice of Islamic humanitarianism as a transnational form which takes shape across otherwise disparate contexts of precarious care. Considering the contemporary social life of the Islamic terms ordeal (ibtilāʾ), ruin (athar), witness (shahāda), and nature (fiṭra), his work traces the productive tensions which today are creatively reformulating ethical traditions amid conditions of economic dispossession and massive displacement.