The Contest in Context: Red-Black Thread Lecture-Performance with Slavs and Tatars & Zain Abdullah (virtual)

By Haverford College's Hurford Center (other events)

Wednesday, October 27 2021 4:30 PM 6:00 PM EST

Red-Black Thread explores the construction of black identity not from the traditional Anglophone and Francophone worlds of the Atlantic but rather from the Russophone idiom of imperial Russia and the Soviet Union. Commissioned by the Walker and Metropolitan Museums on the occasion of the Siah Armajani retrospective “Follow This Line”, Red-Black Thread looks at the experience of labor, race, and sexuality from a shared Russian/Soviet and African-American perspective to better understand failed promises of conviviality and co-existence.

Slavs & Tatars presents Red-Black Thread with Dr. Zain Abdullah, Associate Professor of Religion & Society and Islamic Studies at Temple University, as part of The Contest of the Fruits Exhibits & Events and the The Contest in Context virtual event series. This event will take place virtually via Zoom. A login link will be emailed to you prior to event. If you registered late, you can also join via this link


Zain Abdullah is an award-winning scholar and Associate Professor of Religion & Society and Islamic Studies at Temple University. He earned his doctorate in cultural anthropology from the New School for Social Research in New York City. His first book, Black Mecca: The African Muslims of Harlem (Oxford University Press), has received over a dozen published reviews, and his articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the Journal of History and Culture, African Arts, Anthropological Quarterly and other periodicals. Professor Abdullah has been quoted in media outlets such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic magazine and appeared on NPR, Live at the Apollo Theater, television talk shows and other media programs. He has earned awards from the Smithsonian Institution, where he serves on the International Advisory Board for traveling exhibits. He has lectured widely, curated exhibitions and contributed to programs at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the Museum of the City of New York, the Asia Society and Museum, the Newark Black Film Festival, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the International Festival for Arts and Ideas (New Haven, CT), and various programs sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the US State Department.

In his public life, he has organized national conferences on public issues such as Black males and crime, worked as a Muslim Chaplain for the New York and New Jersey departments of corrections, and served on the NJ Attorney General’s Stop Hate Crimes Committee, earning him the New Jersey State Assembly Resolution in recognition of distinguished service, leadership, and commitment on behalf of the citizens of the State. In 2017, he was induction into the East Orange Hall of Fame among luminaries like Queen Latifah, Dionne Warwick, John Amos, Naughty by Nature, and the late Whitney Houston.

In addition to editing a Routledge volume of 43 chapters on Islam and race worldwide, Zain recently edited a special issue on Black Muslim art and visual culture for The Muslim World journal. He is currently completing a book on the Nation of Islam and Black freedom struggles in mid-twentieth century America. In film, he works with producers for a four-part PBS series on Muslim Americans and has consulted for a Malcolm X documentary that aired on Fusion and Netflix. Dr. Abdullah was the 2018 recipient of the Ford Foundation Senior Fellowship Award researching a book on Islam in America. 


The Contest of the Fruits takes a nineteenth-century Uyghur allegorical poem as the point of departure for investigations into language, politics, religion, humor, resilience, and resistance in a pluralistic world. It includes a virtual series, publication, new animation work, and exhibition at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery by renowned artist collective Slavs and Tatars in partnership with Haverford College’s Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, Twelve Gates Arts, and the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia

The Contest of the Fruits exhibit runs from September 10th - December 12, 2021. All exhibits and events are free and open to the public. For full schedule details and locations, visit: you have any questions or issues registering, please email: [email protected] 

The Contest of the Fruits is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage


Haverford College's Hurford Center