Sunday, March 11, 2018

Saba Mahmood is dead.

I was very sad to wake up to the most unpleasant news of the passing of Saba Mahmood. She was a very influential scholar in the field of anthropology, Gender and Middle East studies, and a very nice person to know and talk to. I first met Saba in Beirut, not in Berkeley. She emailed me and suggested that we meet there during one of her trips to Lebanon. And we met at a cafe in downtown Beirut. We stayed in touch then in Berkeley and she once cooked a great (southern Indian) meal for me (she was an excellent scholar and a great cook) at their home in Richmond. Her book, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, is in my opinion one of the most original books on gender and the Middle East in many years. Her book had a great influence on how I thought and taught issues of gender and Islam. I saw how loved she was by her students at UC, Berkeley, where she had a loyal following. It was fitting that her last post dealt with BDS. Our last communication--as typical of the age of social media--was on Facebook. Our last conversation was about the problematic views and stances of Syrian poet, Adonis. My sincere condolences to Charles, her family, friends, and all her students out there.