Near Eastern Languages and Cultures | Representations of Islam and Muslims in Anthropological Literature
N695 | 23724 | Shahrani


The main focus of the seminar will be on the representations of
Islam and Muslims in the ethnographic/historical literature of the
Middle East and former Soviet Central Asia. The latest edition of
Orientalism by Edward Said and a selection of ethnographies by
Western and native authors will be read and critically discussed in
light of some recent critiques of the nature, purpose and direction
of traditional practices in the social sciences. The central aim of
the seminar is to explore relationships between ethnographers
(producers) and their ethnographic representations (products) of the
Muslim peoples and cultures they study. In particular the
significance of place (of ethnographers culture of orientation, of
education and graduate training, of employment, of research and
fieldwork), gender, and voice (e.g. speaking of or for people
studied, institutions funding the research, and governments and
agencies supporting the research efforts) within the broader
sociopolitical and intellectual environment, and their impact upon
the ethnographic accounts will be examined and assessed.

Course Requirements
A critical written report of the reading assignments for each week
(2 – 3 double-spaced, typewritten pages) highlighting the most
significant points (positive and negative) about the authors’
approach in the text is required. Students are also expected to
actively participate in class discussions, lead class discussions,
make an oral presentation of their term project, as well as submit a
term paper. The term project will consist of a review essay,
including: (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 the student’s own specific topic or field
of research and why. The final essay should be approximately 20
double-spaced, typewritten pages and should be turned in by the last
day of class.

Required Texts
Please refer to the course syllabus for the entire listing of
required texts.