Humility and Interconnectedness: Towards Ecocentric Readings of the Torah and Qur'an

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  Thursday, February 17, 2022
  4 - 5:30 p.m.
  340 Stephens Hall
  Dr. Leyla Ozgur Alhassen;: Arielle Tonkin

Dr. Leyla Ozgur Alhassen, Qur'anic studies scholar, and Arielle Tonkin, artist and scholar of the Torah, will lead a discussion and participatory workshop on Qur'anic and Biblical stories and motifs. They will look at stories and motifs such as the sons of Adam, bees and ants, and good trees in both traditions. Through textual analysis, discussion and art practice, they will explore how we can come to ecocentric readings of the Torah and the Qur'an. How can we move away from anthropocentrism and move towards humility, interconnectedness and ecocentrism? We will think about how as scholars, artists, researchers, students and people, we can learn from the world around us, and the ancestral Ohlone land that we are on. We'll be making very simple, upcycled objects. Please bring leftover string, leaves, twisty ties, paper, tin foil, plastic bags and any other found or upcycled materials to our workshop.

Dr. Leyla Ozgur Alhassen is a Qur'anic studies scholar. She is the author of "Qur'anic Stories: God, Revelation and the Audience." Her scholarship revolves around Qur’anic stories, style and interpretation in literature, performance, and art, across historical periods, languages, and disciplinary boundaries. She is the author of a forthcoming book, "Repetition in Qur'anic Stories" (Oxford University Press), and is also working on a book on hierarchies of beings in the Qur'ān. Ozgur Alhassen is the author of: “A Narratological Analysis of the Story of Ibrāhīm in the Qur’ān: Faith, Family, Parents and Ancestors” (Religion and Literature 2019); “Islam and Iconoclasm: Ibrāhīm and the Destruction of Idols in the Qur’ān” (Religion and the Arts 2019); “‘You Were Not There,’ The Creation of Humility and Knowledge in Qur’ānic Stories: A Rhetorical and Narratological Analysis” (Comparative Islamic Studies 2017); “Behçet Kemal Çağlar’s Kur’ân-ı Kerim’den İlhamlar (Inspirations from the Holy Qur’ān): A Kemalist’s Personal, Poetic Response to the Qur’ān” (The Muslim World 2017); and “A Structural Analysis of Sūrat Maryam Q. 19:1-58” (Journal of Qur’anic Studies 2016). She has a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Arielle Tonkin (they/she) is a queer mixed Moroccan and Ashkenazi Jewish artist, scholar and Spiritual Director. Arielle works to dismantle white supremacy culture through arts & culture work and Jewish and interfaith education work. Arielle has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is currently a Fellow in the SVARA Teaching Kollel, and an Ovdim Fellow with Inside Out Wisdom in Action (IOWA). Current and past exhibitions include "A Fence Around the Torah: Safety and Unsafety in Jewish Life (2021-2022, Jewish Museum of Maryland), "Queering Jewish Diasporas" (2019, Omnicommons, Oakland), "Orienting Practice" (2018, Rubin-Frankel Gallery, Boston), and Orienting Action (2017, Sullivan Galleries, Chicago). Arielle weaves relationships and materializes conversations: the Muslim-Jewish Arts Fellowship, Arts Jam for Social Change, Tzedek Lab, and Atiq: Jewish Maker Institute are among their networks of accountability, collective power, creative collaboration and care.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314



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