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Lena Salaymeh — Performing Legality in Service of Colonialism: ‘Anti-Antisemitism’ as Censorship

 Lena Salaymeh — Performing Legality in Service of Colonialism: ‘Anti-Antisemitism’ as Censorship

Thursday, February 23, 2023

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street

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This talk analyzes recent quasi-legal “definitions of antisemitism” that function as proxies for debates about Zionist colonialism. I propose that procedural and substantive intellectual colonialism (i.e., coloniality) entrap both proponents and opponents of Zionist colonialism. Thus, debates about "new antisemitism" illustrate some of the epistemological difficulties of overcoming coloniality. I argue that anti-colonial heuristics are more consequential than anti-colonial intentions or objectives.

Center for Middle East Studies
Virtual Events

Lena Salaymeh is a British Academy Global Professor in the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (University of Oxford) and Professor in the Section des Sciences Religieuses of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris Sciences et Lettres). She is also Co-Organizer of the Decolonial Comparative Law Project at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private International Law (Hamburg). Salaymeh is a scholar of law and history, with specializations in Islamic jurisprudence, Jewish jurisprudence, and critical theory. Her scholarship on law and religion brings together legal history and critiques of secularism. She received a Guggenheim fellowship and her first book, “The Beginnings of Islamic Law: Late Antique Islamicate Legal Traditions”, received the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the category of Textual Studies. “The Beginnings of Islamic Law” proposes the craft of legal recycling as a framework for conceptualizing Islamic law’s relationship to non-Islamic law. The book’s case studies (on prisoners of war, circumcision, and wife-initiated divorce) deconstruct conventional research, as well as offer critical and historicist alternatives. Salaymeh has held visiting positions at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sciences Religieuses), Princeton University (Davis Center, Department of History), and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private International Law (Hamburg). She received her JD from Harvard and her PhD in Legal and Islamic History from UC Berkeley.