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Politics and Islam


Admission requirements



This course aims to introduce movements of Islamic religious reaction in the Middle East. By avoiding the reduction of Islamic activism as a straightforward product of a distinctive “Islamic mentality” or social setting, we will challenge customary explanations that seek to locate a doctrine or biography as the sole drive of such movements. Instead, we will engage with a range of social movements, activists, and their governments, exploring the connections between them, along with their many bifurcations. Throughout the course methodological and theoretical issues will be stressed and a couple of weeks will be devoted exclusively to these issues.

Unit 1: Introduction and Origins
Unit 2: Violence and Contention
Unit 3: Networks and Alliances
Unit 4: Islamisms as Political Strategy
Unit 5: Islamisms from Above
Unit 6: Social Movements and Islamism
Unit 7: Transnational Islamisms
Unit 8: End of a trend?

Course objectives

This course informs students about the main concepts of political Islam. It enables them to distinguish between classical conceptions and contemporary interpretations. Students will learn how to distinguish between different manifestations of political Islam.

Time table

Time table

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

(1) Attendance and Participation. This component, which includes presentations (20%) and participation in the general discussions (20%), constitutes 40% of the final grade. (2) Essay. Each student will write a 12-15 page analytical paper on a topic to be determined in consultation with the instructor. This component constitutes 60% of the final grade.


Reading list

Deeb, Lara. An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi’i Lebanon. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. ISBN: 978-0691124216

Wiktorowicz, Quintan (ed.). Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2003. ISBN: 978-0253216212

Zubaida, Sami. Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East. New York: IB Tauris, 2011. ISBN: 978-1848850699

(Other selected readings will be available on Blackboard)


Contact information