Professor Leila Ahmed, Ph.D., speaks in the Distinguished Lecture Series

March 22, 2010

 DOHA, QATAR– Leila Ahmed, Ph.D., a renowned professor and prominent author of Women’s studies and Near Eastern studies, delivered an insightful address  Sunday as the third speaker in Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s Distinguished Lecture Series 2010.  In her lecture, titled “Contemporary Trends in American Muslim Women’s Activism," Ahmed presented the developing story of women and issues of women’s rights and Islam as the spread of Muslims continues to evolve in the West, and particularly in America.

            “The topic is one of the themes I explore in my forthcoming book The Quiet Revolution:  Women and Islam in America in the Global Age,” said Ahmed.  We live today in a world where, on the level of ideas and intellectual movements, there are no borders.  Today clearly a global conversation is under way on the subject of women in Islam. Today too, it is women who are part of the emerging late 20th presence of Muslims in the West, and particularly in America, who, for a variety of reasons, are taking a prominent activist role in the conversation about in women and Islam in this first decade of the 21st century.  With its focus on progressive thinking and encouraging young women in the Middle East to reach their highest potential, Carnegie Mellon Qatar is the most appropriate place to present the material that portrays my freshest and most recent researches.”

Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s Distinguished Lecture Series aims to bring in leaders from around the world to share their experiences and discuss their areas of expertise with university students and the community. 

“Through our Distinguished Lecture Series, we bring eminent thinkers, visionary leaders and inspirational individuals to share their insights and experiences on today’s important issues.  Topics of faith and gender are universal. We are delighted to have Leila’s voice, sharing her experience between the United States of America and Qatar in terms of Islamic studies and other religions,” said Chuck Thorpe, Dean, Carnegie Mellon Qatar.

An Egyptian-born American,  Ahmed joined the Harvard Divinity School in 1999 as the first professor of women’s studies in religion.  Prior to joining the Divinity School, Ahmed was at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she was a professor and director of the women’s studies and Near Eastern studies programs.  Her widely read 1999 memoir, A Border Passage, tells of her journey from Cairo to America and how she attempted to reconcile her Muslim Egyptian identity with Western values.  Her 1992 book Women and Gender in Islam is often seen as the authoritative text on the subject. 

Ahmed’s lecture follows the lectures of Aseel Al-Awadhi, Ph.D., one of the first four women elected as a member of the Kuwaiti parliament and Patrick Awuah, Ph.D., founder and president of Ghana’s innovative Ashesi University.

Carnegie Mellon’s Distinguished Lecture Series was created in 2007 and has hosted renowned experts in their fields as Barbara F. Freed, Ph.D., director, producer, screenwriter and Professor of French Studies at Carnegie Mellon University; Takeo Kanade, Ph.D., renowned researcher and robotics professor; and Kentaro Toyama, Ph.D., Director of Microsoft Research India.



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