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Islam and Politics

This course will strive to address and critique common questions about the role of Islam in political life: Is Islam compatible with democracy? Is Islam bad for women’s or minority rights? Does Islam cause violence? Will including Islamist organizations in democratic politics induce them to moderate their views? And what are the political consequences of asking and debating such questions? More broadly, this course will consider evolving approaches to culture, religion, and ideology in political science, exploring not just the effect of Islam on politics but also the ways in which politics have shaped the Islamic tradition over time. In this course, students will learn to read texts closely and critically, to quickly familiarize themselves with new cases and historical periods, to think analytically not just in response to questions but about questions, and to initiate and sustain productive discussions on sensitive and controversial topics. Substantively, they should come away with an understanding of the political history of Islam, a sense of the diversity of political practices that constitute “the Islamic tradition,” and a firm grounding in debates surrounding culture, religion, and ideology in political science.

Bryn Mawr, Fall 2016, Spring 2018