Message from the President

Founded in April 2010, AALIMS reached a milestone at its third anniversary. As a sign of becoming an established organization, we have experienced our first “change of the guard.”

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Message from the President 03-02-2012

The beginning of AALIMS goes back to April 2010, when a group of 18 scholars from 12 institutions came together at Duke University to discuss 14 unpublished papers dealing with Islam or the Muslim world from a social scientific perspective.

The success of the conference led the group to envision further such gatherings. As a first step, a subgroup that included all our current officers, set to work and began organizing a second conference. It was held at Harvard University in April 2011.

Along the way, we had decided to form an organization and chosen a name that conveys our substantive focus, identifies our mission as scholarly analysis, and provides a convenient acronym. That we ended up with an acronym that sounds like “scholars” in Arabic wasn’t exactly a surprise; it required considerable literary acrobatics.

The third AALIMS conference, scheduled for April 6-7, 2012 at Stanford University, is to follow our first formal graduate student workshop. We intend to turn this workshop, too, into a periodic AALIMS event. Our April 2013 conference, which will be hosted by the Baker Institute at Rice University, will also be preceded by a graduate student workshop.

Because AALIMS was created to serve as a forum for social scientific research on Islam and the Muslim world, our primary constituency consists of economists, political scientists, sociologists, legal scholars, and historians who explore causal connections using modern theoretical and empirical techniques. Our disciplinary focus thus differs from that of “area studies” organizations. We also differ from region-specific associations that serve one particular discipline within the social sciences. Drawing from many disciplines, AALIMS covers the entire Muslim world, without geographic specialization.

Our lack of geographic focus is reflected in the colors of our logo, which do not match those of any particular Muslim country. Nor are the colors associated with any political movement, a reflection of our commitment to remaining apolitical. Our goal is to support high-quality research and unfettered scholarly debate.

Many individuals helped AALIMS in critical ways as we got it off the ground. Melanie Hartshorn, Administrative Assistant at Duke’s Economics Department, set a high standard of logistical excellence by enabling our initial conference to go smoothly from start to finish. Nirvana Abou-Gabal, faculty assistant at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, provided superb logistical support in 2011. And Burçak Keskin Kozak, Associate Director of Stanford’s Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, has been a delightful partner to work with as our two April events draw near. In her attention to detail, she is solidifying what has become an AALIMS tradition of excellent conferences.

AALIMS is a non-profit corporation registered in California. Our registration documents were prepared and filed by Joshua Greenberg. As an organization we needed a logo. Rana King of East Liverpool, Ohio stepped up to the challenge, producing the basic form. Debbie Hepp of the Ballyhoo Studio in Chapel Hill then refined Rana’s design, giving it a professional touch, including its subtle colors. Our attractive website, launched on March 1, was designed by Carol Thomson of FireStream Media in Durham. We are grateful to each of these individuals for the care and skills they brought to our mission.

AALIMS remains a project in progress. Our activities will expand. Please feel free to share with any of our officers your suggestions.

Timur Kuran

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