Anthropology | Islam & Pol Cent Asia & Middle East
E600 | 15503 | 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,,, Islamist modernism to
Islamist radicalism) in changing historical contexts. In particular,
we will discuss 19th and 20th century Muslim responses to encounters
with European colonialism, contemporary experiences of "nation-state"
building programs in the Muslim Middle East, and prospects for the new
post-Soviet Muslim states of Central Asia since 9-11-01 and the so
called War on Global Terrorism, in the Middle East and beyond.
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 will 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. 1970.
Geertz, C. "Religion as a Cultural System." In The Interpretation of
Wallace, A. "Revitalization Movements." American Anthropologist, 58, 1956.
Wolf, E. "The Social Organization of Mecca and the Origins of Islam."
Southwestern Journal of
Anthropology, 7(4), 1951.
Crone, Patricia God’s Rule: Government and Islam–Six Centuries of
Medieval Islamic Political
Esposito, John Islam and Politics.
Hajib, Yusuf Khass Wisdom of Royal Glory (Kutadgu Bilig): A
Turko-Islamic Mirror for Princes.
Hamzeh, Ahmed N. In the Path of Hizbullah
Kamali, M. Hashim Freedom of Expression in Islam.
Khalid, Adeeb Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia
Rosen, Lawrence The Anthropology of Justice: Law as Culture in Islamic
Roy, Olivier The Failure of Political Islam
Watt, Montgomery Islamic Political Thought.
White, Jenny B. Islamist Mobilization in Turkey.
Wickham, Carrie R. Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political
Change in Egypt
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 (to be shared via
e-mail with others in the class) at least one day (i.e. Wednesdays)
before the class meetings. 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).