Alumni of the Month, October 2022

The October 2022 edition of the HCAS Alumni Gallery features Ilkka Lindstedt and David Collins, who both were able to advance their book projects while at the Collegium.
Ilkka Lindstedt

My name is Ilkka Lindstedt. I was a Core Fellow at the Collegium during 2016–2019. I am currently University Lecturer in Islamic Theology at the Faculty of Theology, the University of Helsinki.  

During my time at the Collegium, I started working on my postdoctoral research project that looked into an understudied corpus of evidence – Arabic epigraphy from early Islamic times – to study the development of early Muslim identity formation. At first, I wanted to concentrate solely on the early Islamic epigraphic evidence, but I soon realized that a much larger textual mass has to be taken into account. I started working on the Qur’an as well as contemporary non-Arabic literature. The project also entailed studying the pre-Islamic Arabian epigraphic remains.  

My term at the Collegium made it possible to concentrate on the available evidence and put forward a number of hypotheses on the basis of it. Some of those hypotheses eventually made it to articles published in academic journals. In interpreting the material and literary evidence, I made use of, in particular, the so-called social identity approach, a theoretical framework developed in the field of social psychology. My studies culminated in writing a monograph with the title Muhammad and His Followers in Context: The Religious Map of Late Antique Arabia, which is currently in peer-review. 

The Collegium was of utmost importance for my academic career. I benefited considerably from the dialogue and collaboration with scholars from various fields. 

David Collins

Associate Professor, History Department, Georgetown University 

Director, Program in Catholic Studies, Georgetown University 


My research and teaching are in the field of medieval religious, cultural, and intellectual history. I am especially interested in how debates of magic in the Middle Ages – what it was, how it worked, and whether it was good to do – reflected and informed theological and scientific discourses. For the last several years I have been investigating the stance on magic of the leading thirteenth-century philosopher Albertus Magnus and then reactions of others to his teachings from his own day to the present. This major research interest touches on the larger questions of "disenchantment" and its relationship to western modernity.  

During my fellowship year (2020–2021) at the Collegium, I was able to complete the draft of a book manuscript – Disenchanting Albert the Great: The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Magician, 1200–1800, which I am now revising in preparation for publication.