I recently attended a retreat put on by the Social Science Research Council titled “Islam and Muslims in World Contexts.” Though the title may seem a little dry, Tom Asher at the SSRC pulled together a great group of about 20 professors, researchers, journalists, and grant-makers to discuss how coverage of Islam is changing in an ever-changing media landscape. The retreat spanned two days with much discussion. But I’ll bet you’re wondering what this has to do with Shangri La.

In 1925, twelve-year-old Doris Duke was the sole heiress to a sizable chunk of her father’s, James Buchanan Duke, estate. In 1935, Ms. Duke was married and while on honeymoon throughout the Islamic world acquired a large collection of Islamic art. Two years later she built her private retreat on the island of Oahu, just east of Diamond Head.

Doris Duke would continue to collect artifacts throughout her life before she died in 1993. Shangri La now houses the collection and is open to the public. So what a fantastic setting to hold our retreat!

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Wow! Duke's place is amazing. All the art and furnishings are very cool, but my fav is def the garden and beach - spectacular.

Wow! Her house is spectacular. All the art and furnishings are amazing, but my fav is that garden (and obviously the beach). I'm jealous. How long were you there?

What an amazing life Doris Duke must have lived to be able to build a place of such beauty. I can well imagine how moving it is to hold a retreat in such a setting. How lucky you are.

Yes, it was quite stunning. The beach is actually a public swimming area. Every time we had a break we'd look over the edge and there would be a group jumping off the rocks into the lagoon, if you can call it that. We were there for just two days of discussion, and at night we stayed at a hotel over on Waikiki. Highly recommed visiting it if you have a chance!