Generating new knowledge and greater understanding of the ways in which religious and secular forces interact in the modern world.

For more than three centuries, religious and non-religious communities have competed — sometimes violently — as they have responded to the many transformations we know collectively as modernity.

Contending Modernities is a major interdisciplinary effort to generate new knowledge and greater understanding of the ways in which religious and secular forces interact in the modern world.  In its first phase, the initiative has examined how Islam and Catholicism have understood, accommodated, altered, and resisted the radical transformations that have characterized the modern world. As it has grown, the initiative has engaged other discursive traditions and expanded its geographic focus to include projects in Indonesia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Based at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Contending Modernities involves dozens of scholars, public intellectuals, and religious and secular leaders from universities and research institutes around the world. Under the leadership of R. Scott ApplebyEbrahim Moosa, and Atalia Omer, the Contending Modernities core team oversees and supports the project, which has benefitted from the insights and expertise of faculty from many areas throughout the University of Notre Dame.

Contending Modernities is supported by the Office of the Provost, and Notre Dame Research, through a Strategic Research Investment that provides the start-up costs for three professorships that will further Notre Dame’s expertise in Islamic Studies, Islamic Law, and Catholicism and the Global South. The first of these appointments was Emmanuel Katongole, and more recently Ebrahim Moosa and Mun’im Sirry.

Designed to unfold in stages over several years, Contending Modernities is first and foremost a scholarly enterprise, although it also aims to inform public discourse, influence educational content and practice, and place scholarship in the service of informed policymaking, broadly construed.

Working in interdisciplinary research teams, scholars examine critical contemporary issues and address specific research questions.  Interdisciplinary working groups focus on the following themes:

Additionally, Contending Modernities has sponsored, under the leadership of Ebrahim Moosa, the Muslim Humanities research area, a cutting edge engagement with the humanities as a project within majority and minority Muslim communities.