Epistemic Authority and a Just World: Remaking Islamic Studies through Collaborative Practices
Katherine Merriman [+]
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, PhD candidate
This Chapter will explore Carl Ernst's holistic approach to knowledge building, which is actively collaborative, engages with non-scholarly sources of knowledge, and resists the limitations of Eurocentrism in the American academy. To do so, it will focus on his work combatting Islamophobia through three parts: his scholarly writings - mainly Following Muhammad (2003), Rethinking Islamic Studies (2010), and Islamophobia in America (2013); his international scholarly collaborations; and his public engagement in education and arts-based programming. Evaluating these three elements of his work as a whole, it argues that Ernst does not explicitly draw from but follows the challenge presented by feminist writing on epistemic authority: to recognize the unequal access to knowledge-production for marginalized communities; to acknowledge positionality and the necessity of marginalized voices to produce better questions and theories; and to actively remake collective knowledge through more equitable means and towards a liberatory future. Reading Ernst's work on Islamophobia with his scholarly relationships and public-facing work demonstrates an active practice of undoing violent binaries and oppressive stereotypes about Islam and Muslims, which are not simply a lingering Orientalism of days past but real forces that shape public life and government policy. The chapter concludes by way of linking Ernst's larger work in Islamophobia through scholarship and practice to the author's own intellectual and public facing work in the study of Islam in America.