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Politics and Islam


Admission requirements



This course aims to introduce movements of Islamic religious persuasion 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: Networks and Alliances
Unit 3: Violence as Contention
Unit 4: Islamisms as Political Strategy
Unit 5: Islamisms from Above
Unit 6: Islamisms Made Public
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

Each student will be graded on the basis of four formal assignments: (1) Attendance and Class Participation (20%), (2) In-class presentations (20%), (3) Participation in Blackboard discussion thread (15 ), and (4) Final Paper due via Blackboard. (45).

Reading list

  • Bayat, Asef. Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010.

  • Bayat, Asef. Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.

  • 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

There will also be other selected readings available via J-Stor.


Through uSis

Contact information

Dr.Tsolin Nalbantian