by Sümeyye Kocaman for ISLAMiCommentary on JANUARY 7, 2015:
As we hear more and more about the Caliphate, the ummah, Islamic law and the Islamic State, I am surprised by many things: the so-called experts’ lack of information; how the facts are being politically manipulated; how people of faith are letting religion be used in this minefield; and worse, how people of faith believe that religion can be used to legitimize inhumane, political arguments.
When we hear religion as a political argument — e.g. how an ‘Islamic state’ is needed to provide freedom for Muslims who have been victimized for centuries — we must see this as merely a new wave of nationalism backed up by the power of religious discourse. Religious discourse has the highest potential to mobilize crowds. If the discourse is powerful enough some local groups or even the society at large can be mobilized into an emotional mob that cares little for reason. Their voices — pure political ideology.
In the modern world religion and politics continue to be dangerously intertwined. We can regard this crisis of religion as a chance to reverse a vicious cycle. Continue reading →
CFP: The State of the Islamophobia Studies Field (Abstracts due 1/31)
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by HATEM BAZIAN (VIA ACADEMIA.EDU), JANUARY 2015:
University of California, Berkeley Call for Papers to the 6thAnnual Islamophobia Conference (April 23-25, 2015 at Boalt Law School, UC Berkeley)
“Islamophoia Studies:The State of the Islamophobia Studies Field”
UC Berkeley Center for Race and Gender Islamophobia Research and DocumentationProject is hosting the sixth annual International Islamophobia Conference and invites Scholars, Researchers, Artists, Poets, Media Producers, Artists, Activists andCommunity Organizations to submit an abstract for a mutli-medium engagement in the Islamophobia Studies field.The conference’s theme this year is focused on assessing the Islamophobia studies field from a broader multi-disciplinary and transnational perspectives. Continue reading →
Zeynep Tufekci: Social Movements and Governments in the Digital Age
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Evaluating a Complex Landscape
by ZEYNEP TUFEKCI for COLUMBIA JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (Vol 68, No 1 Fall/Winter 2014) on DECEMBER 12, 2014:
SUMMARY: Recently, social movements have shaken countries around the world. Most of these movements have thoroughly integrated digital connectivity into their toolkits, especially for organizing, gaining publicity, and effectively communicating. Governments, too, have been adapting to this new reality where controlling the flow of information provides new challenges. This article examines the multiple, often novel, ways in which social media both empowers new digitally-fueled movements and contributes to their apparent weaknesses in seemingly paradoxically ways. This article also integrates the evolving governmental response into its analysis. Social media’s empowering aspects are real and profound, but these impacts do not play out in a simple, linear fashion. The ability to scale-up quickly using digital infrastructure has empowered movements to embrace their horizontalist and leaderless aspirations, which in turn have engendered new weak- nesses after the initial phase of street actions ebbs. Movements without organizational depth are often unable to weather such transitions. While digital media create more possibilities to evade censorship, many governments have responded by demonizing and attacking social media, thus contributing to polarized environments in which dissidents have access to a very different set of information compared to those more loyal to the regime. This makes it hard to create truly national campaigns of dissent. This article provides an overview of this complex, evolving environment with examples ranging from the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt to the Occupy movement.
Continue reading →
LISTEN: Michael Cook on Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective
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by AMARNATH AMARASINGAM for NEW BOOKS IN GLOBAL CONFLICT on NOVEMBER 5, 2014:
[Cross-posted from New Books in Global Conflict] Michael Cook, a widely-respected historian and scholar of Islam begins his book with a question that everyone seems to be asking these days: is Islam uniquely violent or uniquely political? Why does Islam seem to play a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions? The answers that are provided for these questions, particularly in the media, range from the ludicrous to the islamophobic. Cook, on the other hand, embarks on a much more nuanced and learned attempt at answering the question.
His book, Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective (Princeton University Press, 2014), rightly begins with the assumption that if there is something unique about Islam in this regard, the uniqueness of it can only be understood through comparative study of other religions and their engagement with politics. Cook looks at Hinduism and Christianity’s involvement in modern political life and places them alongside Islam, delving deeper into issues of political identity, warfare, and social values. What he finds is interesting, and goes to the heart of almost every debate taking place in a wide variety of fields like religious studies and the sociology of religion. Listen as we talk with him about his book, about contemporary global politics, ISIS and Al-Qaeda, as well as fascinating future projects.