IAHR 2025


Aaron Hughes

Aaron W. Hughes is the Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and the Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Rochester. He specializes in both Islamic Studies and Jewish Studies, in addition to the history of these two subfields and that of the academic study of religion more generally. His publications include Abrahamic Religions: On the Uses and Abuses of History (Oxford University Press, 2012), From Seminary to University: An Institutional History of the Study of Religion in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2020), and An Anxious Inheritance: Religious Others and the Shaping of Muslim Orthodoxy (Oxford University Press, 2022). He has held visiting positions at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, McMaster University, the University of Oxford, and at the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (ISMC). His work has been supported by the Social Sciences Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Lady Davis Fellowship Trust (Jerusalem), the Killam Foundation, the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH), and Fulbright Canada.

Keynote lecture

The Boomerang Effect: Judaism and Islam, Made in Europe, Out of Europe, and Back Again

The study of Islam and Judaism, like the study of religion more generally, originated in European ateliers. All three fields, however, had rather different genealogies, but all were grounded in one way or another in classical Orientalism. After tracing these genealogies briefly, I turn to a discussion of the anxieties between the particular and the universal in the study of these two traditions, and indeed in the study of religion more generally, including some of the ways these have been mapped over the past few years outside of Europe. I conclude by documenting the return to Europe: what has changed and what remained the same? While issues of globalisation have certainly made this return easier, they have also created a number of fractures and tensions.