Organizers & Staff


Nabil Matar is a professor in the English Department at the University of Minnesota.

He is the principal investigator for the Shared Cultural Spaces project and a member of the steering committee for the project.

His research in the past two decades has focused on relations between early modern Britain, Western Europe, and the Islamic Mediterranean.

He is author of numerous articles, chapters in books and encyclopedias, and the trilogy: Islam in Britain, 1558-1685 (Cambridge UP, 1998), Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (Columbia UP, 1999), and Britain and Barbary, 1589-1689 (UP of Florida, 2005).

He wrote the introduction to Piracy, Slavery and Redemption (Columbia UP, 2001) and began a second trilogy on Arabs and Europeans in the early modern world: In the Lands of the Christians (Routledge, 2003), Europe through Arab Eyes, 1578-1727 (Columbia UP, 2009), and is currently working on the third installment. 

Matar's next publication is forthcoming with Professor Gerald MacLean, Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1713 (Oxford UP, 2010). With Professor Judy Hayden, he is co-editing a collection of essays on travel to the Holy Land in the early modern period (forthcoming Brill, 2011). With Professor Claire Jowitt, he is preparing an edition of three early modern English plays featuring Muslim women (forthcoming, the Revels Series, Manchester UP, 2012).

He is also completing a study and an edition of Henry Stubbe's The Rise and Progress of Mahometanism (forthcoming Columbia UP, 2012).


Jeanne Kilde holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and is the Director of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Minnesota.

She is the co-principal investigator for the Shared Cultural Spaces project and serves as the administrator for the grant. She also is a member of the steering committee for the project. 

As head of the Religious Studies Program, she has organized several symposia and colloquia on topics ranging from pedagogy and ethics in the study of religion to comparative approaches to religious space. 

She is a historian of religion in America, specializing in religious architecture and sacred space.  Among her authored and co-edited books are When Church Became Theatre: The Transformation of Evangelical Architect and Worship in Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford, 2002) and Sacred Power, Sacred Space: An Introduction to Christian Architecture and Worship (Oxford, 2008).

Her article “Material Expression and Maternalism in Mary Baker Eddy’s Boston Churches: How Architecture and Gender Compromised Mind” (Material Religion, July 2005) was awarded in The American Society of Church History’s Jane Dempsey Douglas Prize for the best article on women and the history of Christianity. 

She is co-founder and co-convener of the Space, Place and Religious Meaning Consultation of the American Academy of Religion.


William O. Beeman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota.

He is the co-principal investigator for the Shared Cultural Spaces project and is a member of its steering committee. He also is the producer of the play, Journey.

He was trained at the University of Chicago as a linguistic anthropologist. He is past president of the Middle East section of the American Anthropological Association and former Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University.

He is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and 600 opinion pieces which have appeared internationally. Beeman also has served as consultant to the U.S. State Department, the Department of Defense, the United Nations, and the European Union, as well as having testified before the U.S. Congress. 

His books include, Language, Status and Power in Iran; Culture, Performance and Communication in Iran; The “Great Satan” vs. the “Mad Mullahs”: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other, and Iranian Performance Forms: Keys to Iranian Culture now in press.

Catherine Asher is a professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Minnesota. She is also a member of the steering committee for the project.

She is interested in the Persianate Muslim world and has studied the art history of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal civilizations.

This interest is reflected in her teaching on both an undergraduate and graduate level. Asher has written extensively on Indian art and architecture since 1200 in a series of essays and books, with a particular interest in the Mughals, and more recently, in how they were perceived in the 19th through 21st centuries.

Her initial interest in South Asia derives from her book, Architecture of Mughal India (1992) and her co-edited volume, Perceptions of South Asia's Visual Past (1994). This theme and others is explored in her co-authored book, India before Europe (2006).

Currently, Asher is working on the built environment of Jaipur, a city with large Hindu and Muslim populations, from its foundation in the 18th century to the present.


Catherine Squires is the inaugural John and Elizabeth Bates Cowled Professor of Journalism, Diversity, and Equality at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is also a faculty fellow in the Office of Equity and Diversity at the U.

She is also a member of the steering committee for the project. Students in her JOUR 3741 People of Color and the Mass Media class produced content for the conference website.

Squires focuses on the interactions between racial groups, mass media, and the public sphere. She is the author of Dispatches from the Color Line and African Americans and the Media (Polity, 2009), and co-editor of The Obama Effect: Multidisciplinary Renderings of the 2008 Campaign (SUNY 2010).

She has published many articles on media and identity in journals such as Critical Studies in Media Communication and the Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics. She received her PhD from Northwestern University's School of Speech in 1999 and was an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from 2000-2007. 


Molly McCoy is the Outreach Coordinator in the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota where she develops programs that bring the talents and resources of university faculty to the K-12 community. She works with teachers and schools to advance understanding of international issues through workshops, conferences, and events. 

McCoy holds an M.A. in Comparative and International Development Education from the University of Minnesota.

She is also a member of the steering committee for the project.


Nahid Khan is the graduate assistant for the Shared Cultural Spaces project, including this conference. She is a Ph.D candidate majoring in Mass Communication at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, where she also received her M.A. She also is taking graduate minors in Religious Studies and Museum Studies. Her research focuses on American news coverage of American Muslims. She is also a member of the steering committee for the project.

She has served as a teaching assistant for numerous courses in Journalism and also in Religious Studies. She is a member of the Collections Council and the Faculty and Graduate Student Council of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. She completed an internship in the Museum Guide Programs department at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where she been a Collection in Focus guide since 2004. She is a board member of Mizna, the Twin Cities-based Arab-American arts organization, and is the former volunteer library manager of the Islamic Center of Minnesota. She also is a certified head election judge for her precinct in Brooklyn Center, MN.

Before coming to Minnesota, she was a staff writer for the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Idaho and Washington). She received her B.A. from Purdue University, majoring in Mass Communication-Journalism and minoring in Library-Information  Science.


Hope Reynolds developed the website for this conference. She is the communications assistant for the Program in Religious Studies at the University of Minnesota.

She is an undergraduate student who plans to major in Global Studies and minor in Cultural Studies. She received a Benjamin Gilman Scholarship to study Arabic and take part in a Study Abroad program.

Reynolds spent the 2009-2010 school year in Rabat, Morocco, from where she blogged for Reach the World, an organization that links New York City schoolchildren with people traveling abroad. 


Derk Renwick is the volunteer manager for the conference. He is the executive office and administrative specialist for the Program in Religious Studies, Classical and Near Eastern Sutdes, Cultural and Comparative Literature, and the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Minnesota.

He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota's Master of Arts in Religions in Antiquity and bachelor's degree programs in Religious Studies and Jewish Studies. His current research interests include the paradox as a catalyst for identifying dual and non-dual systems of theoretical and religious thought, theory and method in religious studies, and Biblical studies.