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Muslim Studies Fellowships

Starting in 2005, the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences provided two Dean’s Fellowships in support of Muslim Studies initiatives. One fellowship is offered through the Department of Anthropology. The other is offered through the Graduate Division of Religious Studies (GDRS). Each fellowship provides tuition support and a stipend for one year. Doctoral candidates interested in applying for these fellowships are requested to apply directly to the departments.

The following candidates received GRS/Muslim Studies Fellowships:

Carol Ferrara, Anthropology (AY 2011-2013)

FERRARA-e1320189196861Carol Ferrara is focusing her studies on Islam in secular societies, particularly in France and Turkey. More specifically, she is interested in Muslim youth in secular societies; their education (religious and secular), their identity, their religious sentiments, and their relationships with their families, their peers and the state. Her Master’s research included a quantitative and qualitative study of education about religion (or lack thereof) in public and private high schools in Paris, France and its correlation with student religious tolerance and understanding.

Carol holds a dual MA in Middle East & Islamic Studies and International Affairs from the American University in Paris and a BS in International Business from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Achmad Tohe, GDRS (AY 2010-2012)

Achmad ToheAchmad Tohe is a Ph.D candidate in Islamic Studies at Boston University. He is a Fulbright scholar from Indonesia. He has been a faculty member at the State University of Malang, Indonesia since 1998. He is now working on his dissertation on one of, if not, the earliest complete Qur’anic commentaries in the Muslim scholarship whose author, Muqatil Ibn Sulayman (d. 150/767), has conventionally been regarded as “heretic” and hence been neglected. Achmad’s scholarly interests are wide ranging including scripture and interpretation, development of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, religion and secularism, and Islam and politics.


Andrea Chiovenda, Anthropology (AY 2009-2011, 2013-2014)

chiovendaAndrea Chiovenda’s areas of interest are the Middle East and Muslim South Asia. His main subjects of research revolve around political and legal anthropology: tribal social dynamics, tribe-state relations in post-colonial settings, conflicting legal systems and traditions, formation and transformation of leadership roles, inter-group conflicts (aggression, domination, prejudice, stereotypes). He will focus on the Pakhtun populations of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Andrea received an MA in ancient history from the University of Rome, Italy. He then served for several years as an Army officer and then a freelance journalist, working extensively in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In 2009 he earned an MA in security studies from Georgetown University.

Amina Chaudary, GDRS (AY 2008-2010)

Amina-ChaudaryAmina Chaudary is a doctoral student focusing on historical and contemporary trends of Islam in America with guidance from Stephen Prothero. She has researched identity of American Muslims as hyphenated individuals and is exploring the American religious landscape over the past few decades as it intersects with Islam. She is also a fellow at the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations. She holds an MA from Harvard University’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Program in History and Culture of the Islamic World and an MA from Columbia University with a focus on South Asian and Middle Eastern studies. She has worked on and researched the Muslim world engagement project and the study of Islam in America at various capacities for over 10 years, including work for high ranking global thought leaders like Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner of Human Rights. Amina founded, and currently serves as the Editor in Chief of The Islamic Monthly, an award winning magazine that focuses on intelligent discussion pertinent to the Muslim world. She established an influential leader series for the magazine where she’s interviewed prominent global thinkers on the clash of civilizations and Muslim engagement. Among her interviews are Samuel Huntington, Bernard Lewis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Secretary Madeleine Albright and Noam Chomsky.

Mentor Mustafa, Anthropology (AY 2008-2009)

mustafaMentor Mustafa’s research is focused on the Bektashi Order of Dervishes, which is playing a major role in Albania’s present search for national identity. The Bektashi are a Sufi order of ancient lineage. They were the most important Sufi group during the Ottoman period, and had a special relationship to the military (Janissaries), but since then have suffered many shifts in fortune. Most recently, they were almost eliminated during Albania’s Communist regime, but have experienced a remarkable resurgence in the last decade.The Bektashi have a centralized system based on a hierarchical structuring of spiritual knowledge. The central figure, the Dede, is at the heart of this system, but spiritual authorities have considerable autonomy over local affairs and their disciples. The relatively loose structure is coupled with a high degree of syncretism and religious tolerance. Mentor has developed extremely good connections with the order, staying in their lodges, including the central lodge where the Dede resides and partaking in the Bektashi ritual cycle.Mentor’s research looks to fill a gap in our knowledge of this esoteric Sufi group, but it will also help us to understand cultural survival under extremely adverse conditions, and the manner in which religious revivalism is taking place in a post-communist setting as well. Furthermore, the Bektashi serve as an example of a tolerant Islam, far from the present-day monolithic perspectives on the Muslim world.

Sumanto Al-Qurtuby, Anthropology (AY 2007-2008)

sumantoSumanto Al Qurtuby’s research interests include conflict and peace studies, Muslim politics, Islamic history and cultures, religious pluralism, and Chinese Muslim studies. He is now focusing on his dissertation project on Christian-Muslim conflicts and the quest for post-war reconciliation and civic peace in the Moluccan Islands, especially in the region of Ambon, Eastern Indonesia. Sumanto, a Secretary-General of the Nahdlatul Ulama Community in North America, was formerly editor-in-chief of Justisia, an Indonesia-based quarterly scholarly journal focusing on classical and contemporary Islamic studies and Muslim politics. He was also former editor of a weekly Chinese newspaper, Nurani Bangsa. In addition to journalistic activities, he was co-founder of Indonesia’s Institute of Inter-Religious Relations and Humanity.

Born in Java, Indonesia, he obtained a BA in Islamic law from the State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN Walisongo), M. Si. in sociology of religion from the Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW) (both in Indonesia), and an MA in conflict transformation and peace studies from Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the United States.

Matthew Pierce, GDRS (AY 2006-2008)

Matthew.Pierce_Bu.159367.jpegMatthew Pierce is a PhD candidate in Islamic Studies. He specializes in classical Islamic thought, particularly questions related to social memory, gender, and legal theory. His dissertation, “Writing the History of the Infallible Imams: Suffering and the Production of Medieval Twelver Shi‘i Culture,” looks at classical Arabic and Persian biographical literature on the Shi‘i imams and evaluates the significance of this literature to the evolution of Sunni and Shi‘i identities in the 10th to 13th centuries. Matthew’s research utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Islam, drawing upon theories advanced in sociology, literary criticism, and gender studies. Before coming to Boston University, Matthew was a Fulbright fellow in Yemen and studied in Cairo, Egypt and Qum, Iran. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies.

Scott Girdner, GDRS (AY 2005-2006)

girdnerScott Girdner is currently Visiting Scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.  Previously, he taught at Western Kentucky University and abroad in Morocco and Spain.  Since graduating, he has received a variety of research awards and was a participant at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar on Freewill and Human Perfection in Medieval Jewish Philosophy, where he researched the reception of Islamic intellectual and spiritual traditions in Jewish tradition.  Most recently, he was invited to participate and contribute to the publication of the proceedings of two international conferences on the thought of al-Ghazali at Yale University and Ohio State University.  Outside of academe, he remains active in promoting public awareness of Islam and in interfaith dialogue on issues of citizenship, social responsibility, and the environment.



Fellowship in Persianate Studies

Since the Fall 2010, the Institute offers a Fellowship in Persianate Studies. This fellowship is available to doctoral candidates with a research focus in Central and Southwest Asia (sometimes referred to as Turco-Perisa) in all departments. The fellowship provides tuition support and a stipend.  Interested candidates are requested to apply directly to departments.  Departments will submit candidates to the Institute for fellowship consideration.

Ehsan Moghaddasi (AY 2010-2015)

ehsan-moghaddasiEhsan Moggaddasi is a Ph. D candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Boston University. He is focusing his studies on Social Media Advisory,a nd action planning at political and environmentalist organizations. He is a former Research Assistant at Harvard University and a member at Academy of Persian Language and Literature. He has won several awards as filmmaker and Assistant Director of Mr Bahman Farmanara, including 2003 Winner of the Best Documentary Short Film, Environmental Film Festival, Tehran, and 2004-2006 Six awards from documentary and short Film festivals.

Moghaddasi holds a MA in  Literary criticism from the University of Tehran and a BS in  Electrical Engineering from Tabriz University.

Information about all fellows derived from Anthropology, Graduate Division of Religious Studies , and Randolph-Macon College websites.