Attendance at the Second International Ismaili Studies Conference was an act of courage for some of its participants. They had been concerned that they would be breaking an unwritten rule by being present at an event on Ismaili Studies that was organized independently of established Ismaili, Mustaili, Druze, etc.
institutions. Some institutional employees who were interested in attending had found themselves considering whether the conference was an “approved” gathering. Discussions before, during and after the event raised certain questions, including: 1) is approval required for such scholarly events? 2) is there a national or international body with the authority to grant permission for academic gatherings that have the word Ismaili in their titles? 3) are such conferences positioned against Ismailis and Ismaili institutions? 4) what is the place of academic freedom (particularly relating to speech) at these gatherings? 5) what is the nature of Ismaili civil society?
The Ismaili Studies Conferences (ISC) are a progressive endeavour to provide opportunities for the presentation of research on the scholarly space termed broadly as Ismaili Studies and they serve as venues for academic discussion and debate.