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Religion and the Arab Spring*
This course investigates the role of religion - Islam in Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen, and Islam and Christianity in Egypt and Syria - during the “Arab Spring,” the political rebellions of 2011 and 2012. Principal topics include: the cultural, political, and socio-economic histories that informed the outbreak of the “Spring” in its various embodiments; the immediate factors contributing to the rebellions; the role of the US and European and Arab states; the effect of the “Spring” on Arab Christian/Muslim relations; the overall outcome of the “Spring,” and the degree to which it has led to truly significant change.
Wednesdays, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., beginning Jan. 23
The course concentrates on close readings of a variety of contemporary materials including scholarly writings and newspaper articles. Inasmuch as we are investigating rapidly evolving realities, some writings may be substituted or added as the course progresses.
A. Books To Be Purchased:
Gelvin, James L. The Arab Uprisings, Oxford, 2012.
Lesch, David W. Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad, Yale, 2012.
Prashad, Vijay. Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, AK Press, 2012.
Ramadan, Tariq. Islam and the Arab Awakening, Oxford, 2012.
Sowers, Jeannie and Toensing, Chris. The Journey to Tahrir, Verso, 2012.
B. All other readings
Copies of other readings will be put on reserve and/or scanned on SONISWEB.
Grading will be based on three papers of 3-4 pages each, in response to questions posed by the professor on the required readings (45%); a longer paper of 10 pages on a broad topic posed by the professor (there will be a number from which to choose), based on the required readings as well as additional materials that may be incorporated by the student (25%); discussion in class, including sessions in which the student summarizes a reading or readings and presides as a discussant (30%).
Schedule of Topics and Readings
January 23 Religion, Politics, and Society: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations
Sami Zubaida, Beyond Islam, I B Taurus, 2011, pp. 1-29 and 77-114.
PLEASE NOTE: This, together with questions for discussion, will be made available through reserve or SONIS well in advance of the class and students will be expected to have read the material for the first night.)
January 30 An Introductory Overview
James L. Gelvin, The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford, 2012, pp. 1-92.
February 6 An Introductory Overview
Gelvin, pp. 93-158.
February 13 Made to Order or Spontaneous? The Reflections of a "Cautious Optimist"
Tariq Ramadan, Islam and the Arab Awakening, Oxford, 2012, pp. 1-95
February 20 Made to Order or Spontaneous? The Reflections of a "Cautious Optimist"
Ramadan, pp. 96-212.
February 27 Egypt: Economic,Social and Political Dimensions of the Uprising
Omnia EI-Shakry,"Egypt's Three Revolutions," from Bassam Haddad et. al., The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings,london, 2012,pp. 97-103;a selection of articles from Sowers and Toensing, pp. 21-40; 92-106;149-159; 203-223;224-234; Hazem Kandil, "Revolt in Egypt," New left Review, March-April, 2011,pp. 17-56; Hazem Kandil, Soldiers,Spies, and Statesmen: Egypt's Road to Revolt, london and NY, 2012,pp. 238-244
March 6 Egypt: Religious Dimensions of the Uprising
Robert D. Lee, "The Taming of Islam in Egypt," from his Religion and Politics in the Middle East, Boulder, CO,2010, pp. 81-119;Nadine Sika, "Dynamics of a Stagnant Religious Discourse and the Rise of New Secular Movements in Egypt," from Bahgat Korany and Rebab EI-Mahdi, Arab Spring in Egypt, NY, 2012, pp. 63-82; Ibrahim EI-Houdaiby, "lslamism in and After Egypt's Revolution," from Korany, op. cit., pp. 125-152; selections from Sowers and Toensing, pp. 160-199.
March 13 Libya
Vijay Prashad, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, AK Press, Oakland, 2012, pp. 91-160.
March 20 Libya
Prashad, pp. 160-252.
March 27 NO CLASS
April 3 Syria
David W. Lesch, Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad, Yale, 2012, pp. 1-121.
April 10 Syria
Lesch, pp. 121-205.
April 17 The "State Apparatus" and Alternative Sources
A group of scholarly and journalistic articles, some of no more than one or two pages, will be discussed. Articles include Asad Abu-Khalil, "Nada Bakri on Syria," The Angry Arab News Service,Nov. 14,2011;Press lV,"BBC Uses Fake Photo for Houla Massacre," May 29, 2012; Chris Marsden, "Houla Massacre Carried Out by Free Syrian Army According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung," World Socialist Web,June 13, 2012;Jonathan Steele, "Most Syrians Back President Assad but You'd Never Know from the Western Media," The Guardian, January 17,2012;Charles Glass, "Syria's Many New Friends Are a Self-interested Bunch," The National, July 11, 2012; Charles Glass, "Aleppo Betrayed by Attacks That Are Foreign to Its Nature," The National, Feb. 13, 2012; Charles Glass, "The Citadel and the War," NY Review of Books," June 7, 2012; Charles Glass, "Syria Can Be Preserved by the Subtle Route of Compromise," The Guardian, July 9, 2012; Charles Glass,"How Syria Is Being Destroyed," NY Review of Books, December 20,2012; Nir Rosen, "lslamism and the Syrian Uprising," Foreign Policy, March 8, 2012; and Nir Rosen, "Among the Alawites," London Review of Books, September 27, 2012.
April 24 Imperialism or Humanitarian Intervention?
A group of scholarly and journalistic articles, some of no more than one or two pages,will be discussed. Articles include Joseph Massad, "The 'Arab Spring' and Other American Seasons," ai-Jazeera, August 29, 2012, pp. 5-6; Wayne Madsen, "The Obama Doctrine: Imperialism Masked as 'Humanitarian Interventionism'," Strategic-Culture.org, February 28, 2012,pp. 1-3; Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher, "The Myth of US Humanitarian Intervention in Libya," International Socialist Review,May-June 2011, pp. 1-9;Patrick Buchanan, "Puppet Revolutions," The American Conservative, February, 2012, p. 11; Jenny O'Connor, "'NGO': The Guise of Innocence.The Illusion of Innocent Philanthropic Activity," Irish Foreign Affairs, vol. 1, March, 2012, 6 pages; Stephen Gowans, "Overthrow Inc.: Peter Ackerman's Quest To Do What the CIA Used To Do, and Make It Seem Progressive," What's left (website), August 6, 2009,11pages;Ron Nixon,"US Groups Help Nuture Arab Uprisings," New York Times, April15,2011;Jenny O'Connor, "The Shadowy World of Egypt's NGOs," The New Statesman rolling blog,March 17, 2012, 6 pages; "Egypt protests: secret US document discloses support for protesters" from The Telegraph website, london, January 28, 2011, 2 pages; Maidhc 0 Cathail, "The Junk Bond 'Teflon Guy' behind Egypt's Nonviolent Revolution," Dissident Voice, February 18, 2011, 2 pages; Craig Whitlock, "Wikileaks: US Secretly Backed Syria Opposition," Washington Post, Apri117, 2011, 8 pages.
May 1 Christians
A group of scholarly and journalistic articles, some of no more than a few pages, will be discussed. Articles include Bernard Heyberger, "Eastern Christians, Islam and the West: A Connected History," International Journal of Middle East Studies, August, 2010, pp. 475-478; John Allen, "liberating the Christian Voice in the Arab Spring," National Catholic Reporter, August 12, 2011, 5 pages;John Allen, "Preventing a 'Spiritual Disneyland' in the Holy land," National Catholic Reporter, July 21, 2011, 11pages; Cornelis Hulsman, "Exacerbating the Position of Christians in Egypt through Reporting Out of Context Harms Egypt's Christians," Commission of the Bishops' Conference ofthe European Community website, May 4, 2012, 12 pages;Tamir Moustafa and Asifa Quraishi-landes, "The Politics of Religious Freedom: Paradoxes of 'religious freedom' in Egypt," SSRC blog, April16, 2012, 3 pages; Associated Press. "Who Are the US Coptic Christians?" CBC website,September 20, 2012, 3 pages; Fiona McCallum, "Religious Diaspora and Information Communications Technology: The Impact of Globalization on Communal Relations in Egypt," The New Arab Media, edited by Mahjoob Zweiri and Emma C. Murphy, london, Ithaca Press, 2010, n.p.
May 8 Stepping Back in Search of Larger Meanings
Olivier Roy. "The Transformation of the Arab World," Journal of Democracy, val. 23, no. 3, July, 2012, 14 pages; Olivier Roy. "Islamic Revival and Democracy: The Case in Tunisia and Egypt," 6 pages;Perry Anderson, "On the Concatenation in the Arab World," New left Review,March-April,2011,pp. 5-15;Hugh Roberts, "libya and the Recklessness of the West," london Review of Books, September 22,2012; Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya,"Preparing the Chess Board for the 'Clash of Civilizations'," November 26, 2011, hamsayeh.net; and Jillian Schwedler et. al., "Three Powerfully Wrong- and Wrongly Powerful- American Narratives about the Arab Spring" from Bassam Haddad, op. cit.,pp. 37-48.
Gelvin, James L. The Arab Uprisings, Oxford, 2012. Buy now
Lesch, David W. Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad, Yale, 2012. Buy now
Prashad, Vijay. Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, AK Press, 2012. Buy now
Ramadan, Tariq. Islam and the Arab Awakening, Oxford, 2012. Buy now
Sowers, Jeannie and Toensing, Chris. The Journey to Tahrir, Verso, 2012. Buy now