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The Second International Symposium on Diversity and Unity in Transnational Shi’a Islam (May 9th – 13th, 2022) builds off a landmark symposium hosted at Harvard University in 2021 by the Weatherhead Center’s Project on Shi’ism & Global Affairs that focused on bringing together interdisciplinary voices from across various interpretations of Shi’a Islam in both contemporary and historical contexts. This forthcoming weeklong symposium will host five panels with leading scholars in the field who study the diversity of Shi’a thought and communities across denominational lines including Zaydi, Ismaili, Alevi, Alawite, Bektashi, Twelver Ja’fari Islam, and more.


Each day of the symposium will feature a single panel on a specific topic which will be held online via Zoom. The symposium is free and open to the public. The full schedule of the symposium can be found here.


Welcome & Opening Remarks
Monday, May 9th: 10:45AM – 11:00AM EDT | 7:45AM – 8:00AM PDT 


 Keynote Speaker: Professor Devin Stewart (Emory University)

Monday, May 9th: 11AM – 12PM EDT  | 8:00AM – 9:00AM PDT


 Panel 1 | Intra-Shi’a Dialogue and Community Building in the West: Peace-Building and Civil Society

Monday, May 9th: 12:15PM – 1:45PM EDT | 9:15AM – 10:45AM PDT


 Panel 2 | The Imamate across Shi’a Traditions

Tuesday, May 10th: 1:00PM – 2:30PM EDT | 10:00AM – 11:30AM PDT


 Panel 3 | Ismaili Traditions in Central and South Asia

Wednesday, May 11th: 1:00PM – 2:30PM EDT | 10:00AM – 11:30AM PDT


 Panel 4 | Comparative Approaches towards Shi’a Theology and Philosophy

Thursday, May 12th: 2:00PM – 3:30PM EDT | 11:00AM – 12:30AM PDT


 Panel 5 | Shi’a Identities and Politics in the Modern Levant and Turkey

Friday, May 13th: 1:00PM – 2:30PM EDT | 10:00AM – 11:30AM PDT



About the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs

The Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs undertakes advanced research on the multifaceted and diverse manifestations of Shi’ism in the contemporary world. The study of Shi’ism, religious mobilization, and the challenges of sectarian conflict is more pressing now than ever in modern history. From the war in Yemen, the civil strife in Syria, and the devastation in Iraq and beyond, a diverse array of ethnic and confessional Shi’a movements have emerged as a significant dynamic on the Middle Eastern geopolitical landscape witnessing a historic mobilization of Twelver, Zaydi, Alawi and other minority religious movements.

The Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs encompasses an interdisciplinary approach with a focus on the history, sociology, theology, and politics of the diverse Shi’a communities and nations across the globe—who number over 220 million individuals mainly spread across the Middle East, Central and South Asia, Africa, and the West.

Funded in part through a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs conducts a rich content-based study of Shi’a thought and identity across transnational Shi’a contexts inclusive of a diversity of denominational (Twelver, Ismaili, Zaydi, Alawi, Alevi, and beyond) as well as diverse ethnic groups across the Middle East, South and Central Asia, Africa, and Shi’a diaspora communities across the globe. 

Find out more about the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs here and here.