Anthropology | Islam & Pol Cent Asia & Middle East
E600 | 0407 | 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
Required Readings (some titles may vary):
Asad, T. "Ideology, class and the origin of the Islamic State."
Economy & Society. 9(4), 1980
Asad, T. "Anthropological Conceptions of Religion: Reflections
on Geertz." Man (NS), 18,1983.
Aswad, B. "Social and Ecological Aspects in the Formation of
Islam." In Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East, Louise Sweet, ed.
Geertz, C. "Religion as a Cultural System." In The Interpretation
of Cultures. 1973
Wallace, A. "Revitalization Movements." American Anthropologist,
Wolf, E. "The Social Organization of Mecca and the Origins of
Islam." Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 7(4), 1951.
Shoshana Keller To Moscow, Not Mecca: The Soviet Campaign Against
Islam in Central Asia 1917-1941.
Mohammad Hashim Kamali Freedom of Expression in Islam.
Jenny B. White Islamist Mobilization in Turkey.
Esposito, John Islam and Politics.
Charles Kurzman Liberal Islam: A Source Book
Haghayeghi, Mehrdad Islam and Politics in Central Asia
Hajib, Yusuf Khass Wisdom of Royal Glory (Kutadgu Bilig): A
Turko-Islamic Mirror for Princes.
Madelung, Wilferd The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of Early
Nizam Al-Mulk The Book of Government or Rules for Kings.
Rosen, Lawrence The Anthropology of Justice: Law as Culture in Islamic
Roy, Olivier The Failure of Political Islam
Watt, Montgomery Islamic Political Thought.
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-