Emily Silkaitis is a sixth-year PhD candidate in the Islamic Studies subfield. Her research interests include suicide, early and medieval Islamic history, and the history of death more broadly. Her dissertation investigates suicide in Islam, c. first/seventh through sixth/twelfth centuries. 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. Though not eager to report, medieval Muslim authors 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.
Silkaitis is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Laurance S. Rockefeller Graduate Prize Fellowship from the University Center for Human Values. Her research has also been supported by the Religion and Culture Fellowship from the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship.