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Inaugural Khōjā Studies Conference

Mohammad Magout, Junior Researcher at our KFG "Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities", will give a presentation on "Multiple Differentiations: Distinctions between the Religious and the Secular in Different Ismaili Communities" at the Inaugural Khōjā Studies Conference in Paris (15-16 December 2016).

The Theme of the conference is "Religious identities in the construction of communal Khōjā historical memory". It is intended as an inaugural conference in the collaboration among FIU in Miami, CNRS- CEIAS in Paris and The World Federation of KSIMC in London. Its focus is to develop a rigorous transdisciplinary international programme of research on the history of the Khoja peoples through recherche scientifique on manuscripts, printed texts, oral traditions, and material culture. The preservation of multilingual materials in Sindhi, Kacchī, and Gujarati are important links that bridge the premodern- modern divide of Khōjā historiography. Coordinating ways to preserve these materials and make them available for academic research is a priority that necessitates international coordination and cooperation. This gathering will explore religious and social transformations that occurred as a result of migration and cosmopolitanism. It seeks to be inclusive of various modern academic interpretations of Khōjā identity and history in conversation with one another on the frames used in the interpretation of primary texts. Moreover, the Khōjā cannot be understood in isolation therefore research on related communities, such as the Lōhāṇā, Bohra and Memon, are particularly welcome as this helps to better contextualize what is sometimes a more insular Khōjā self-articulation of identity narratives.

Some of the questions posed by this conference include: What makes a religious text uniquely ‘Khōjā’ and how does has that identity evolved diachronically in various spacial contexts? How can the ginan (jñānō) corpus be categorized to reflect its interpolation over time, script changes, and space. How did the extinction of the Khōjā Sindhi script create a discontinuity that aided the development of modern Khōjā creedal Islamic identities? How does the tension between and ethnic Indic and Near Eastern Islamic identities manifest itself in the preservation of Khōjā heritage? How is communal religious authority constructed and contested transnationally?