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The reinvention of Islam in the age of religious machines: 1970 to the present

29 nov 2013 17:00 - 19:00

Hôtel Lauzun, 17 Quai d'Anjou, 75004, Paris


Chaque conférence sera précédée par une visite de l’Hôtel de Lauzun à partir de 16h30


Dans le cadre du cycle de conférences données par les résidents de l'Institut d'études avancées de Paris à l'occasion de l'inauguration de l'IEA de Paris à l'Hôtel de Lauzun.

Cinquième conférence donné par Leor Halevi : The reinvention of Islam in the age of religious machines: 1970 to the present

Discutant : Christian Müller (CNRS)

This presentation will deal with the discovery of Islam by engineers, and specifically with their production of new religious machines. Eager to capitalize on a religious revival, engineers started in the 1970s to unlock the power of the microchip to solve Muslim devotional problems. They began to tinker with microprocessors in the expectation that deepening religiosity and rising wealth would open a global market for new Islamic goods. They turned their attention, first and foremost, to the difficulty of determining with utmost precision the times of prayer and the physical orientation of prayer. Over the course of three decades, they created many devices to meet this and other challenges. Their efforts yielded many strange and wonderful new things—from credit cards that reveal the direction of Mecca to headscarves that absorb ultraviolet radiation. As engineers promised both Islamic mobiles for infant’s cribs and Islamic caskets for burial in Western cemeteries, it became increasingly clear that someday pious, affluent Muslims would find it tempting to consume religious things from cradle to grave.

Instead of focusing on the desires and wants of pious consumers, as is common, I will call attention to the role of capitalists and engineers in producing new mechanisms for devotion. I will also reflect on the implications of their re-invention of Islam. I will address in particular Salafi critiques of the consequences, for praying Muslims, of this entanglement with modern technology.

Leor Halevi, résident de l’IEA de paris, est Historien de l’Islam à l’université Vanderbilt à Nashville dans le Tennessee.

Ses recherches explorent les relations entre la loi islamique et les objets matériels dans une grande variété de contextes. Il est l’auteur de Muhammad’s Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society (Columbia University Press, 2007), qui a reçu le prix Albert Hourani et le prix Ralph Waldo Emerson. Il prépare actuellement un ouvrage sur la vision des technologies modernes par les Salafistes.

Christian Müller est directeur de recherche au CNRS, rattaché à l'Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes, spécialiste de l’histoire du droit musulman. Il est actuellement responsable du projet européen « Le droit musulman et sa matérialisation : les documents arabes légaux (VIIIe-XVe siècle) ».

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30 June 2014
29 Nov 2013 19:00
Leor Halevi
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