Hello from Detroit!
Well, I'm in Detroit, having arrived late last night, driving through some of the most incredible snow storms I've ever seen -- litterally snowing snowballs -- huge chunks of snow, rather than flakes or clumps of flakes.
I'm participating in a conference on Islam, Gender and Diversity -- I'm really looking forward to the various presentations, and rather nervous. I'm on a panel with none other than Yvonne Haddad, the grandmother of American Islamic studies. Guess this is one time when I'm going to emphasize my activist background rather than my academic one!
Back in the 90s I went to a presentation by Yvonne, and she was both humble and realistic. She understood how she was a groundbreaker in American Islamic studies, but also that there are limits to what one can learn in a sociological study. Samples of Muslims attending masjids are naturally going to be a certain subset of Muslims -- a more conservative group than the entirety of the community, which includes many more Muslims who do not go to mosque regularly.
So, she made a case for the limited nature of her presentation, and I'll be making a case for anecdotal nature of mine... After all how can we negotiate reality, except through the lenses of our own experiences and observations. And while academic studies of a phenomenon are important, the experience of living the phenomenon is also important -- different approaches to the same issue, but both with their own value.
It doesn't help that while gardening the other day with Noora (we planted peas! Yay!) we both seem to have come in contact with a skin irritant. The whole of my face below my eyes is inflamed -- red, itchy, bumpy, burning! I've got little itchy patches elsewhere that look like poison ivy, so I'm assuming that some of the roots we pulled out of the garden were poison ivy shooters. Noora also has a patch of the rash on her face, much more localized, thank goodness, and it doesn't appear to be bothering her. Wish I could say the same for myself. I look a sight and am very uncomfortable!
Anyway, more later on the various presentations.