Emily Silkaitis

Graduate Prize Fellow
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Emily Silkaitis is a fourth year graduate student in the Department of Religion. Her dissertation investigates the historiography of suicide in early Islam, along with legal and social attitudes towards these acts. Although suicide is prohibited by Islamic law and doctrine, suicidal acts (defined as threats, attempts and successful executions of self-killing) are not absent from the historical record. Although not eager to report, medieval Muslim historians also were not loath to mention in passing, or depict in detail, acts of self-killing. In this vein, Silkaitis approaches suicide in Islam from the perspective of cultural history rather than in the context of jihād and martyrdom, as is the dominant tendency in this line of historical inquiry. Before coming to Princeton, Silkaitis received an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago and completed her undergraduate studies in history at the University of Richmond and the College of DuPage.