Summer 2006
Fully Enrolled

SOCS 612
Islam and/in the West

Gottschalk,Peter S.

06/26/2006 - 07/13/2006
Monday-Thursday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Fisk Hall 414

Is there a "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West? What distinguishes the two and why the conflict? This course, which assumes no familiarity with Islam, explores these questions and their assumptions. Through a historical and thematic exploration, we will look at the question of "difference," asking what interests have been served by defining Islam as different. We will also survey the cultural, religious, and political dimensions of Islamic and western interaction at specific historical moments. These will include Arab imperialism, the Crusades, the Spanish Reconquista, European imperialism, Zionism, Islamist revivalism, and the War against Terrorism.

As the course unfolds, we will pay particular attention to the mounting inertia of the perception that conflict is inevitable--as expressed in the stereotypes, caricatures, and symbols used to depict Muslims as other. We will examine the discourse used by various sides that construct "Islam" and "the West" from their particular cultural experiences in order to serve their specific political goals. Meanwhile, we will unpack the categories of differentiation that underlie these notions to demonstrate the many and shifting intersections of historical identities and interests.

We will read both primary and secondary sources. The former include a wide range written by authors who identify themselves variously as Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Western, Arab, and Afghan, among others. These will include the work of Dante, Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan, Lord Cromer, Malcolm X, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Leila Ahmed, George Bush, and Osama bin Laden. Secondary sources include Geneive Abdo, No God but God; Fadwa El Guindi, Veil: Modesty, Privacy and Resistance; Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations; Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong?; Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors; Peter Marsden, The Taliban; and Edward Said, Orientalism.

Pre-Class Assignment: Please read at least the first three chapters of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Peter Gottschalk (BA College of the Holy Cross; MA University of Wisconsin-Madison; PHD University of Chicago) is professor of religion at Wesleyan University. His research and teaching concentrate on the confluence of religious cultures in South Asia, with a particular focus on Muslims and Hindus in contemporary rural India. His work investigates issues of identity, social memory, modernity, and epistemology. Among other works, he has written Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Identity in Narratives from Village India (2000), co-written Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy (2007), and co-designed the interactive website "A Virtual Village" (2001). Click here for more information about Peter Gottschalk and click here for more information about his work.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Geneive Abdo, NO GOD BUT GOD (Oxford University Press), Paperback

Bruce Lincoln, HOLY TERRORS (University of Chicago Press), Paperback

Malcolm X, AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Ballantine), Paperback

Ahmed Rashid, TALIBAN (Yale University Press), Paperback

Salman Rushdie, SATANIC VERSES (Picador), Paperback

Edward Said, ORIENTALISM (Vintage), Paperback


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