Harvard Assistant Professor of the History of Science Marwa Elshakry joined 19 other scholars nationwide to be named Carnegie Scholars this week by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Members of the new class of scholars will each receive grants of up to $100,000 to pursue specific Islam-centered research themes over the next two years. This is the second class of Carnegie Scholars to focus on Islam.
The title of Elshakry’s research topic is “Science and Secularism in the Arab World after Darwin.” With this grant, she will continue to explore how Muslim thinkers in Egypt and Greater Syria approached Western science after Darwin. The translations of the new evolutionary sciences prompted debate among Muslim thinkers and the emerging Arab press: They served to catalyze change on numerous social fronts, including religion, social development, cultural advancement, and political struggle.
Elshakry will pose three main questions: How did the translation of modern concepts of science reconfigure epistemological and social categories in the Arab world? What were the responses to Darwin’s ideas about the relationship of religion to science and how do they help us understand notions of secularism in this region? And, lastly, how did the discussion of evolutionary science and progress change Muslim thinkers’ perceptions of Arab society and politics in the recent past?
Elshakry will prepare a book and write articles for both scholarly and public audiences.
The goal of the corporation’s new emphasis on Islam is to encourage the development and expansion of the study of Islam within the United States and to stimulate research on which to help build a body of thoughtful and original scholarship.
Additionally, the corporation is concentrating the Carnegie Scholars program on Islam over the next few years to help make the field more central to American research and instruction, significantly expanding the breadth of knowledge necessary to build leadership and guide national and foreign policy.