Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies. Students of the MA International Relations programme are also welcome. Please, contact the student advisor, Dr. Nicole van Os, or the instructor Dr. C. Strava prior to registration for permission if you are interested in taking this course but NOT a student of one of the above-mentioned MA programmes. See also under the heading "registration".
Students without prior knowledge of the Middle East are expected to have read before the first class: Bowen, John R., A New Anthropology of Islam. Cambridge University Press, 2012.
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 conveners 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: 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours
- Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours
- Time for studying the compulsory literature: 100 hours
- Time for assignments (presentation and participation): 46 hours
- Time to write a paper (including reading / research): 110 hours
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). It is also unacceptable for students to reuse portions of texts they had previously authored and have already received academic credit for on this or other courses. In such cases, students are welcome to self-cite so as to minimise overlap between prior and new work.
Students must submit their assignment(s) to the blackboard through turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.
Assessment and weighing
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.
Late submissions of the final version will result in a deduction of paper grades as follows: 1-24 hs late = -0.5; 24-48 hs late = -1.0; 48-72 hs late = -1.5; 72-96 hs late = -2.0. Late papers will not be accepted more than four days after the deadline, including weekends.
(The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is a fictional date for administration purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the convener 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.
Only if the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower) and the insufficient grade is the result of an insufficient paper, a resit of the paper is possible (50%). In that case the convener of the course may assign a (new) topic and give a new deadline.
A resit of the other partial assessments is not possible.
If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam/paper results, an exam/paper review will be organized.
- 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
Students of the MA programme Middle Eastern Studies are required to register through uSis before January 15. Students from this programme who cannot register in uSis, and interested students from other MA programmes are requested to send an email to the student advisor, Dr. Nicole van Os, including their name, student ID number, course title and prospectus or catalog number. Depending on the availability of places, the student advisor will register these students after January 15. By February 1 at the latest the student will be able to see in uSis whether (s)he is registered or not.
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 “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English. You can also have a look at the FAQ.
Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the webpage on course and exam enrolment for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs
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.