On April 14, the Carnegie Corporation of New York named Assistant Professor of Law Samuel Rascoff a 2009 Carnegie Scholar, the fifth academic affiliated with NYU Law in the last seven years to be selected for the prestigious award. Rascoff was chosen for his compelling ideas and commitment to enriching the quality of the public dialogue on Islam. His project is entitled “Understanding How the U.S. Government Understands Islam.”
A specialist in national security law and counterterrorism, Rascoff will focus on how the U.S. government acquires knowledge and sets policy in the area of Islamic thought and practice. The government’s concept of Islam, which he refers to as “official Islam,” is enormously consequential. Unlike strictly academic accounts, official Islam reverberates throughout society as a function of the policies to which it gives rise.
“In recent years, the study of Islam has proliferated across American government,” Rascoff said. “From military headquarters to congressional committees, and from federal courts to local police precincts, officials have sought to understand Islamic practice and thought, especially its more radical expressions. My research will focus on assessing the government’s efforts and on addressing the substantial legal, policy, and practical questions raised by the emergence of ‘official Islam.’”
Rascoff’s examination of official Islam will draw on comparisons with the Sovietology of a previous generation, as well as with current policies in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Through the resulting monograph, articles, and talks, Rascoff aims to disseminate his findings to a wide audience of academics and policymakers as well as to members of the military, law enforcement, and intelligence communities. He intends to offer recommendations on how the U.S. approach to acquiring and analyzing information on Islam might be improved.
Rascoff was selected as one of 24 well-established and promising young thinkers, analysts, and writers who will receive two-year grants of up to $100,000 from the foundation. The 2009 awardees are the fifth class to focus on Islam, bringing to 117 the number of Carnegie Scholars devoted to the topic since the program began in 2000.
Each year, nominations for Carnegie Scholars are invited from more than 500 nominators representing a broad range of disciplines and institutions, including academia, research institutes, nonprofit organizations, the media, and foundations. Nominators are asked to identify original thinkers who have the ability or promise to spark academic and public debate, and whose work transcends academic boundaries.
Previous Carnegie Scholars from NYU Law are: Stephen Holmes (2003), Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law; Richard Pildes (2004), Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law; Noah Feldman (2005), faculty advisor at NYU Law’s Center on Law and Security and formerly the Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law; and Aziz Huq (2006), former deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice.