Introducing Dr. Cyril Uy II, Assistant Professor

Dr. Uy joins the Philosophy and Religion faculty as Islamic Studies specialist


Q: Dr. Uy, can you introduce yourself and your teaching for our students?

A: "My name is Cyril Uy—you can call me CJ—and I'm the new specialist in Islamic studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at JMU. This semester, I'll be teaching two courses: Religions of the World (REL 101) and Knowledge and Identity in Islam (REL 300 Special Topics).

"Religions of the World covers a wide range of traditions, exploring how practitioners, skeptics, and scholars from across the globe navigate a plurality of religious possibilities. We'll study debates about Islam and bioethics in Egypt, religious imaginaries in Japanese anime, Satanist countercultures in Scandinavia, and much more. Knowledge and Identity in Islam surveys how Muslims across space and time have used different types of knowledge to fashion themselves and the world(s) around them. Our case studies will include the translation of Greek philosophical texts into Arabic in medieval Baghdad, embodied pedagogies in colonial and post-colonial West Africa, shifting sexual epistemologies in 19th-century Iran, and a whole host of others."

Q: What excites you about teaching at JMU?

A: "So far, the students at JMU have been a pleasure to teach. We've had some wonderful discussions in both my GenEd course and upper-level seminar, due in large part to the probing questions, keen insights, and infectious enthusiasm of my students. I'm excited to see where they take our course material as the semester progresses."

Q: You recently defended your dissertation at Brown and earned your Ph.D. Congratulations! Please tell us a little about your research.

A: "My research explores how medieval Muslim mystics and philosophers grappled with fundamental questions about knowledge: What does it mean to know? How do experiences, practices, and identities mark people as knowing beings? How can we communicate knowledge in writing? Rather than stable systems or bundles of facts, the figures I study imagined knowledge as something dynamic and embodied—a way of being in world and engaging with it. To know was to live the world as a web of dynamic forces; to affirm human experience in all of its shifting relationships, messy contradictions, and incommensurable frames of reference. By analyzing how these thinkers communicated their knowledge in text, I highlight how nuanced approaches to plurality could thrive as potent modes of social and intellectual competition."

Q: Anything else your students and colleagues might like to know about you?

A: "Outside of the classroom, I play bass in a DC-based ska-punk band called Kill Lincoln. (Before you ask, it's a Fast Times reference; nothing to do with honest Abe.) We've put out a string of releases in the last couple of years, including a full length entitled Can't Complain, a track for Ska Against Racism, and a split with Less Than Jake. In 2019 we were fortunate enough to tour Japan, playing shows across Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Gifu. Catch me around the department and I'll be happy to talk about Islamic studies, music, or whatever you'd like!"

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Published: Monday, August 30, 2021

Last Updated: Monday, August 30, 2021

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