News and Announcements

Andrey Panov`s lecture at the Department of Asian and African Studies of St. Petersburg State University

On November 20, Andrey Panov, the Deputy Director of the Department of the Middle East and African Countries of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered lecture “Islamic extremism as an object of ideological manipulation on the example of the conflict in Syria.” During the lecture, Andrey Panov spoke about the course of the events of the Arab Spring, their background and the reconstruction of the cause-effect relationships of this phenomenon. The lecturer also covered in detail the activities of various global and regional actors in the Middle East and spoke about the dynamics of political changes in the situation in this region.
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Congress of the Bicentennial of the Institute of Asian and African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

On October 29, a congress dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) opened in Moscow. The Congress was opened by Vitaly Naumkin the Scientific Director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies of the RAS, and Dmitry Peskov, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation. Several high-ranked Russian officials also took part in the ivent.

Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Director General of the State Hermitage Museum, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dean of the Department of Asian and African Studies of St. Petersburg State University and Alexander Knysh, the head of the Scientific Laboratory for Analysis and Modeling of Social Processes of St. Petersburg State University participated in the congress as honored guests.

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The start of the webinar course “Islam in Russia”

On Monday, September 10, a new webinar course was launched, in which students of Islamic studies programs at St. Petersburg State University. During the course, which will last the entire fall semester of 2018, they will participate in series of webinars devoted to various periods in the history of Islam and Islamic studies in Russia. The course is also open for the students of the University of Michigan and Kazan Federal University.

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Recommencement of Webinars with the University of Michigan

Since September 11, the weekly webinars have resumed with the University of Michigan. During the classes, bachelor students and graduate students of St. Petersburg State University, including whose who study at the program for training specialists with in-depth study of the history and culture of Islam discuss with their American counterparts the development of Muslim mysticism (Sufism). As in the past academic year, classes are held under the guidance of Professor of Islamic Studies, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, the Head of the Research Laboratory for Analysis and Modeling of Social Processes, Alexander D. Knysh.

The first meetings were devoted to the influence of the ideas of Neo-Platonism on the development of Islamic mysticism and the role of Sufism in the modern world. During the fruitful discussion held in an open setting, various problems of the genesis of mystical ideas in Islam, the relationship between asceticism and mysticism, the role and possibility of practicing asceticism in the modern technological world, as well as the similarities and differences between the mystical currents of different religions were discussed.

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Keeping up with the times: making of an open online course “Islam: history, culture and practice”

Staff of the Scientific Laboratory on the analysis and modeling of social processes are actively involved in making of the online course “Islam: history, culture and practice”.

The course examines and analyzes the emergence of Islam as a religious teaching and practice, as well as its subsequent development as a cultural and socio-political tradition in various historical and cultural circumstances and regions. The course examines the struggle of ideas and the clash of socio-political movements, based on various interpretations of the foundations of Muslim dogma. The cornerstone of the methodological complex of this educational complex is the concept of internal diversity, “multidimensionality” and “polyphony” of the Muslim tradition, as well as the dynamics of its interaction with non-Islamic value systems, religions and societies.

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Laboratory staff took part in the XXIX International Congress on Historiography and Source Studies of Asia and Africa “Asia and Africa: their Heritage and Modernity”

On April 21-23, 2017, XXIX International Congress on Historiography and Source Studies of Asia and Africa took place at the Faculty of Asian and African Studies of St. Petersburg State University. First organized as early as 1961, the conference became today one of the largest platforms for meetings of russian and foreign Orientalists, and since 2017 received congress status.

The congress program included 21 sections, in which more than three hundred reports were presented. The presentations were made by researchers from Moscow, Kazan, Ufa and other centers of Russian oriental studies, as well as scientists from the UK, USA, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Egypt, Italy, the Netherlands and Greece.

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Presentation by Alexander D. Knysh at GÖTTINGER ORIENT-SYMPOSIUM

On Friday, May 19, at the GÖTTINGER ORIENT-SYMPOSIUM conference in Gottingen, Alexander Dmitrievich Knysh, head of the Scientific Laboratory for Analysis and Modeling of Social Processes, Professor of Islamic Studies at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies of the University of Michigan, will present a report “Sufism and the Quran: The Vicissitudes of Sufi Exegesis”.

St. Petersburg State University at the international exhibition of higher education in Riyadh

From 12 to 15 April 2017, in the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – Riyadh, an international exhibition devoted to higher education issues was held. The exhibition was attended by several dozen leading universities in the world, including St. Petersburg State University. The University was represented at the exhibition by A.V. Tyushev and prof. Oleg I. Redkin.

Much attention is paid to education in Saudi Arabia: hundreds of thousands of Saudi students are studying abroad, and new universities are opening up inside the country. The participants of the exhibition were interested in the program for training specialists with an in-depth study of the history and culture of Islam that is being implemented at St. Petersburg State University. Saudi applicants were also attracted by other educational programs of St. Petersburg State University, which are taught in English.

Presentation by Olga A. Bernikova “Interdisciplinary approaches in training programs for specialists with an in-depth knowledge of the history and culture of Islam: the experience of St. Petersburg State University”

Presentation by O. Bernikova at the Moscow International Education Fair 2017

Lecture of the Head of the Laboratory at the University of Virginia

On Thursday, April 13, at the Center for Contemplative Sciences (University of Virginia) Alexander D. Knysh, head of the Scientific Laboratory for Analysis and Modeling of Social Processes, Professor of Islamic Studies at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies gave a lecture “Quranic Exegesis and Mystical Experience: Sufis and Quran”.
Sufism is a mystic-ascetic movement in Islam, distinguished by the diversity and richness of ideas and their practical implementation, as well as a significant contribution to the development of the institutional environment and the arts, in particular architecture. The lecture was devoted to the consideration of the approach of adherents of this direction to the Quran and the achievement of certain states of consciousness through the recitation of the Sacred Text. The exoteric reading of Scripture sometimes led to a sharp transformation of the exegete itself, caused by the collision of the ideas of the Koran with the personal experience and beliefs of the Sufi. Such exoteric and empirical practices were considered in the report in a historical and comparative perspective.

The event was supported by the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, the Medieval Studies Program and the Center for the Study of Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia of the University of Virginia.