Faculty in the News In the News

May 21, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Lybarger Talks about Palestinian Experiences in eCampus Spotlight Sunday

eCampus features Dr. Loren Lybarger on Spotlight Sunday.

eCampus features Dr. Loren Lybarger on Spotlight Sunday.

Dr. Loren Lybarger, Associate Professor of Classics & World Religions, is featured by eCampus in its Spotlight Sunday social media series.

Lybarger is teaching CLWR 3330 Introduction to Islam this summer for eCampus.

“My interest in Islam and Muslim societies and cultures goes all the way back to the very beginnings of my life. I was born in Pakistan in 1964 and lived there until I was 7 years old. In 1971, I returned with my family to live in Cleveland and then also in Trenton, N.J.,” he says.

“After graduating from college in 1986, I went to the Occupied Palestinian West Bank to teach English in a predominantly Christian town. The school I worked in, however, had many Muslim students from surrounding communities. During that period, the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) began. This event gave rise to a new political phenomenon, the Islamic Resistance Movement, known as Hamas. Hamas had a strong effect on Palestinian politics and identity. I wanted to understand better why this group had arisen, how it had affected Palestinian nationalism, and what it meant for Islam as a modern social and political force.

“In 1989, I went to Egypt to study at the American University in Cairo. During my two years at AUC, I made a number of Muslim friends who challenged me to think critically about my own religious upbringing and beliefs. I began to study Islam as a religion at that point. After completing my studies, I worked in the Gaza Strip for two years. The tensions between Hamas and the secular-nationalist movements had deepened and become violent. The Israeli occupation also continued to make life very difficult for Palestinians,” Lybarger continued.

“Finally, just as the Oslo Peace Accords were being negotiated, I returned to the United States to begin master’s degree and doctoral work in religious studies. Since completing my Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, I have written a book on identity and religion among Palestinians (Identity and Religion in Palestine) and published numerous articles on a range of topics. My current book project focuses on religion and identity issues among Palestinian immigrants in Chicago. I am also working on new research that addresses the ambivalent role of religion in situations of autocratic rule, especially in Argentina and Egypt.”

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