Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The Center for Near Eastern Studies is delighted to announce the selection of distinguished scholar Wilferd Madelung as the nineteenth recipient of the Giorgio Levi Della Vida Award for outstanding contributions to the field of Islamic studies. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated a life-long commitment to scholarship, education and professional service in the field.
The tradition established by CNES founder and first director Professor Gustav E. von Grunebaum calls for the Levi Della Vida awardee to convene an international conference on a topic of his or her choice and to invite colleagues to contribute papers which, along with the keynote presentation, are then prepared for publication. CNES recently published the proceedings of the Levi Della Vida conference in honor of Oleg Grabar, entitled The Experience of Islamic Art on the Margins of Islam. Other recipients of the award include Mohammed Arkoun, Fazlur Rahman, S.D. Goitein and Annemarie Schimmel.
A leading contemporary Islamicist, Wilferd Madelung has made significant contributions to modern scholarship on medieval Islamic communities and movements, including Twelver Shi`ism, Zaydism and Isma`ilism. Educated at the Universities of Cairo and Hamburg, he became Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago in 1969 and Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford in 1978. At present he is Senior Research Fellow with the Institute of Ismaili Studies. Among his recent publications are Religious Schools and Sects in Medieval Islam (London, 1985), Religious Trends in Early Islamic Iran (Albany, NY, 1988), Religious and Ethnic Movements in Medieval Islam (Hampshire, 1992), The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate (Cambridge, 1997) and, with Paul E. Walker, An Ismaili Heresiography (Leiden, 1998).
He has contributed extensively to the Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Encyclopaedia Iranica for which he is also a consulting editor. In 2003 he was honored by a Festschrift, Culture and Memory in Medieval Islam, edited by Farhad Daftary and Josef W. Meri.
"He has made major contributions to many aspects of medieval Islamic history and thought, with particular reference to religious schools and movements in early Islam," said Daftary. "Indeed, his studies, based on a vast array of primary sources, have enriched our understanding of almost every major Islamic movement, school or sect."
Professor Madelung has proposed Universality in Islamic Thought as the theme of the international conference to be held in May 2007. "I myself would probably speak about universality in kalam, in particular Mutazili thought, on which I am currently working," he said. "Other papers should in my opinion consider universality in Sufism, especially Ibn Arabi, Islamic philosophy, Ismaili thought, Hanafi legal thought, and possibly Ibadi thought... Obviously one could also think of other traditions," he added.
UCLA Professors Michael Cooperson, Ismail Poonawala and Hossein Ziai have confirmed their participation in the conference, as have Carl Ernst of UNC Chapel Hill, Dimitri Gutas of Yale University, Baber Johansen of Harvard Divinity School, and Emily Savage-Smith of Oxford University.