2022 Thesis Prize Winners Announcement

May 20, 2022

After reviewing many impressive submissions, the Selection Committee has made the following selections for the Alwaleed Bin Talal Undergraduate Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation Prizes in Islamic Studies:

Undergraduate Thesis Prize:

The Selection Committee is pleased to announce that Farah Afify (Social Studies) has been chosen as winner of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Undergraduate Thesis Prize for her thesis, “Radical and Muslim: Islamic Liberationist Thought in the Black Panther Party.”

Farah explores the often-overlooked relationship between the Black radical tradition and Islam in the late 20th century through close readings of underutilized and privately-held archival materials, oral histories, and ethnographic interviews with elders of the East Coast chapter of the Black Panther Party. Farah argues that for these Muslim Panthers, Islam functioned as a living tradition filled with liberatory potential. Through her research, Farah reveals the East Coast Panthers as a crucial chapter in the history of the Black Panther Party, unearthing the history of how Muslim traditions shaped the East Coast Panthers’ radical imaginary, and centering Muslim Panthers as legitimate revolutionary actors, showing how Muslim theology can and did yield leftist theory and praxis. Farah’s thesis is a significant contribution to Islamic studies and Muslim American studies.

The Committee would also like to recognize Margaret (Mollie) Stone Ames (History and Literature and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations) as honorable for her thesis, “'Les Militants Ne Sont Pas Des Machines’: Didar Fawzy-Rossano’s Relations of Revolution.”

Mollie writes a biography of the Arab Jewish communist militant, Didar Fawzy-Rossano, who was involved with the nationalist movement in Egypt, the Algerian liberation struggle, and anti-Zionist struggle in Palestine. Mollie's thesis is the first work to document Fawzy-Rossano's life in full. It is impressive not only for covering many contexts and time periods, but also due to her relentless pursuit of limited sources.

Ph.D. Dissertation Prize:

The Selection Committee has chosen Dr. Janan Delgado (Study of Religion) as winner of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Doctoral Dissertation Prize for her dissertation, “The Ties That Bind: Child Custody in Andalusian Malikism, 3rd/9th - 6th/12th c.”

Janan conducts a longitudinal study of the evolution of child custody rules in the Maliki school of law. Her study offers insights into the social history of parent-child relations, especially mother-child relations, and networks of children's custodians in pre-modern Islamic societies, a topic that has been the subject of minimal scholarly attention. Janan shows that maternal priority extended beyond a child's biological mother to include a growing number of women relatives and, importantly, that this priority included a strong commitment to the custodial rights of non-Muslim women, although this was not always easily accepted among the interpreters of Malikism. Janan uses a breadth of sources and cogently assembles them to clearly answer the question of how the mother’s custodial rights evolved in the Maliki school. This rigorous dissertation makes an important contribution to the social and legal history of the medieval Islamic West.

The Committee would also like to recognize Dr. Ari Schriber (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations) as honorable mention for his dissertation, “The End of Shari'a? The Structural and Epistemological Evolution of the Shari'a Judge in Colonial-Era Morocco.”

Ari's dissertation addresses the long-standing question of the place of Islamic law in the 20th century nation state, specifically the process of producing sharia-based court rulings in colonial-era Morocco (1912-1956). He uses original court rulings and archival material to trace a paradigmatic legal dispute involving paternity, property, and slavery that was adjudicated in both Moroccan shari'a courts and Moroccan French courts leading to parallel contradictory rulings, both pronounced on the ostensible basis of shari'a. Ari ultimately argues that French court rulings laid a foundation for the piecemeal state definitions of Islamic jurisprudential concepts that would characterize shari'a in the post-colonial polity.

Congratulations Janan, Farah, Ari, and Mollie and thank you to all those who submitted their excellent work for the Alwaleed Bin Talal Thesis Prizes!