American Muslim Humor and the Politics of Secularity

Samah Choudhury
Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies
Ithaca College

American Muslim Humor and the Politics of Secularity will be the first book-length analysis of contemporary American Muslim standup comedy as an embodied performance of secular communication. It explores how a sense of humor has come to be thought of as a civic and cultural expectation in secular societies and why Muslims are consistently figured as lacking this critical comportment of modern personhood. By examining the standup comedy routines, television shows, and films produced by South Asian American Muslim comedians between 2010 and 2020, this project seeks to understnad how these performers cultivate a funny Muslim self that displaces stereotypes about Islamic terrorism, violence, and misogyny while also providing a representation of the Islam that ultimately aligns with – and is limited to – hegemonic state visions of multiculturalism and diversity.

Spiritual Legacy of Fred Ho: Monkey as Matriarchal Socialist Spiritual Transformation

Brett Esaki
Assistant Professor of Practice
Arizona State University

Fred Ho was a major figure in Afro-Asian solidarity through music, community organizing, and scholarly contributions. In his theatrical production of Journey Beyond the West: The New Adventures of Monkey, Ho showcases a unique combination of music, martial arts, and spirituality. This proposed project consists of interviewing the writers, cast, crew, and musicians of his play, who are now in Brooklyn and Chicago along with archival research. Ho was notoriously dedicated to practical and political ideals. This project seeks to discover the experience of spiritual transformation, if any, of the writers, cast, crew, and musicians as they trained and performed the martial arts opera.

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