Indiana University Bloomington
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U797  Comparative Study of Muslin Societies of Central Asia and the Middle East:  Islam and Politics in Central Asia and the Middle East
Nazif Shahrani

This seminar critically examines, from anthropological perspectives, relationships between the development of political institutions and articulations or manifestations of political ideals in Muslim societies in general and those of Central Asia and the Middle East in particular. We will pay close attention to the paradigmatic and historical significance of the formative period of Muslim politics (i.e, the era of the Prophet's rule in Medina and those of his Righteous Khalifs or Khulafa-i Rashidun), and focus on the continuities of styles and strategies of Muslim political discourse (e.g. adaptationism, conservatism, Mahdism, and Islamist modernism) in various historical contexts. In particular, we will discuss 19th and 20th century Muslim responses to encounters with European colonialism, contemporary experiences of "nation-states" building programs in the Muslim Middle East, and prospects for the new post-Soviet Muslim states in Central Asia and post-9-11-01 situation in the Middle East.

The first part of the seminar will consist of readings and discussions of essential background materials, and will include critical evaluations of a number of case studies on Central Asia and the Middle East. The second part will involve discussion of student project presentations.

Required Readings (some titles may vary):



Course Requirements:

A critical written report of the reading assignments for each week (about 2-3 double spaced typewritten pages) highlighting the most significant points (positive and negative) about the authors' approach in the text(s). These brief weekly review are due in my office by 2:00pm one day before the class meeting. Students are also expected to actively participate in class discussions, lead at least one class discussion, make an oral presentation of the term project, and submit a term paper on the term project. The term project will consist of a review essay consisting of: 1) critical reading, detailed assessment and synthesis of all required readings for the seminar; and 2) serious and reasoned reflection on how the theoretical, conceptual, methodological and substantive issues covered in this seminar will (or will not) be useful to your own specific topics or fields of research interests and why. The essay should be about 20 typed pages (double-spaced).

Days and Time:  Tuesday, 2:30-4:45.