Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or the MA Asian Studies (research) another relevant Research MA. Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.
For more than four decades cultural/social anthropologists have engaged in the study of Muslim societies. Anthropological perspectives have become increasingly prominent in studies of the Muslim world. According to Edward Said, they might serve as an antidote against essentialist and static views of older “orientalist” approaches. This seminar aims to give an overview of anthropological studies of Muslim societies, both contemporary and historical. This means that also books of historians who use an anthropological perspective might be subject to analysis. Our starting point will be the seminal essay by Clifford Geertz, “Islam Observed” (1968). Following this lead, the comparative study of Muslim societies is understood to be central. The first meetings are dedicated to a general introduction to anthropology, its theories, complicated history, concepts and methods. Special attention will be given to combination of the study of written sources with fieldwork. The different styles of report and writing ethnographies will also be analyzed.
In addition, the in-depth discussion of these texts will allow us to engage with practical questions about anthropological methods of participant-observation, interviewing, writing field notes, and more. What role can anthropology play in framing not only popular perceptions of Muslim societies but also broader policies and programs? Should that be the role of ethnographic writing, and how well does this genre lend itself to cross-disciplinary dialogue?As such, the anthropological approach itself will be subject to scrutiny, by placing it in its social and historical context, in which the colonial past looms large. The second part of the seminar is focused on a systematic study of several regional traditions in which anthropological approaches have taken place. We will compare monographs from those regions (for instance the Arab World, Central Asia, the South Asian subcontinent, South East Asia and/or Sub-Saharan Africa) with recent work on Muslim communities in Europe, focusing on central anthropological themes, such as piety, gender, pilgrimage and ritual, but also more recent themes such as youth and Islamic fun, consumerism and banking, politics and the public sphere,
- A sound overview of the main anthropological studies of Muslim societies and the central issues they cover.
- An introduction to anthropological theories and methods in the context of Muslim societies.
- A critical reflection on the history of anthropological approaches to the study of Muslim societies placed into a socio-political context.
Mode of instruction
Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. This is a class based on collaborative dialogue. As such, being prepared to participate in discussions is a course requirement. This entails having read, annotated, and thought about the weekly themes carefully before class starts. Furthermore, you must bring your copy of the text to class every week – in either paper or pdf form. Since we will be engaged in closely examining the texts we read and the language that they use, if you don’t have your text then you are not prepared for class, even if you have read the assignment.
The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.
Total course load for the course for 10 EC, 280 hours:
- Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 3 hours per week x 12 weeks = 36 hours, with an extra 6 hours for ResMA students, (in a form to be discussed)
- Time for studying the compulsory literature: 100 hours
- Time for assignments (presentation and participation): 44 hours
- Time to write a paper (including reading / research): 94 hours
Participation, presentation, final paper.
The final mark is composed of
- 25% for participation
- 25% for presentation
- 50% final paper.
The final paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version.
(The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is a fictional date for administration purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the convenor of the course.)
In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.
The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.
If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam/paper results, an exam/paper review will be organized.
Note: there is no separate Blackboard page available for this ResMa course. Please subscribe to the Blackboard page of the regular MA course.
- Deeb, Lara and Harb, Mona. 2013. Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi‘ite South Beirut. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Fishcher, Johan. 2011. The Halal Frontier: Muslim Consumers in a Globalized Market. London: Palgrave.
- Geertz, Clifford. 1968. Islam Observed. Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia. New Haven & London: Yale University Press
- Ghodsee, Kristen. 2010. Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Kreinath, Jens. ed., 2012. The anthropology of Islam reader. Routledge.
- Tarlo, Emma. 2010. Visibly Muslim: fashion, politics, faith. London: Bloomsbury.
- Varisco, Daniel. 2005. Islam Obscured. The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Some additional readings. A definitive reading list will be made available at the beginning of the course
For the Research MA students additional reading will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature.
Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch
Registration à la carte or contractonderwijs
A la carte nor contractonderwijs is possible for this course.
Students with disabilities
The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.
Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).