On March 5, 2016, the Institute for Masonic Studies once again partnered with the Freemasonry and Civil Society Program at the University of California, Los Angeles to delve into a topic of scholarly research related to Freemasonry’s role in contemporary and historic civil society.
More than 150 guests – including Masons, academic scholars, and UCLA students and faculty members – attended the 5th International Conference on Freemasonry, Brothers Across the Sea: Freemasonry’s Spread to Africa and the Middle East.
This year’s topic fascinated scholars of both historic and contemporary Freemasonry. Dr. Said Chaaya of the French National Centre for Scientific Research talked about the introduction of Freemasonry into the Middle East – and how it caused a new desire for modernity and Freedom in oppressive societies. A paper from Dr. Michelle Campos of the University of Florida covered social networks in Ottoman Palestinian Freemasonry, following the 1908 Ottoman revolution. Moving across the Mediterranean Sea, Dr. Alain Roger Pierre Coefe came from Burkino Faso in West Africa to share new insights into African Freemasonry – both its origin in the continent and the membership experience today. And, Teko Foly, M.B.A., shared his unique perspectives gained as a member of Masonic lodges in both Africa and the United States.
“Given the prominence of these regions in current events, I found each presentation – especially those about Islam and Freemasonry – to be a welcome and educated insight into a misunderstood and volatile subject,” said Adam Kendall, collections manager of the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry.
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