Posts Tagged ‘Arab Spring’


Religious Liberty and Violent Religious Extremism

Can a foundation of religious freedom mitigate violent extremism by various religious organizations? This is the question put before a group of scholars at a symposium sponsored by the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs (Georgetown University). Moderated by Thomas Farr, the panelists include Dan Philpott (Notre Dame), William Inboden (Texas), Allen Hertzke (Oklahoma), and Sahar Aziz (Texas A&M).

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Matthew Derrick on the Geography of the Umma (Encore Presentation)

The notion of “the umma” — the community of Islamic believers — is often thought to be at odds with modern (post-Westphalian) notions of national territory. Islam, it is said, transcends the geographic boundaries of the nation-state and this may present unique problems for how societies understand and interact with one another. Prof. Matthew Derrick discusses the role of territory in history and how the umma fits into this, taking on scholars such as Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis who see a disjuncture between the umma and national territory. Prof. Derrick, a geographer, argues that territory is still important and often trumps transnational religious identity, or is at least a concept that cannot be discarded so easily.

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David Patel on Religion & Social Order in Iraq

Why have women in the Middle East resorted to more conservative forms of dress in recent decades? And what happens when social order breaks down in Iraq following the US invasion in 2003? These two questions, along with an analysis of the rise of ISIS, are answered by Dr. David Patel of Brandeis University. He connects these threads via a political economy approach to religious institutions and behavior by showing how signaling and common knowledge are important in coordinating society, and how religious leaders may play a role in enhancing such coordination. David explains how and why Shiites were more successful in building social networks in Iraq following the collapse of the Hussein regime as compared to their Sunni counterparts, and what ISIS has been doing in recent years to account for its success.

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Paul Kubicek on Islam, Political Islam, and Democracy

Can democratic governance on a national scale coincide with Islam? Prof. Paul Kubicek (Oakland University) takes us on a comparative journey to show where predominately Islamic populations have existed successfully with democracy. While much of media and scholarly attention on the topic of Islam and democracy has focused on the Middle East, Paul discusses the interesting cases of Turkey, Senegal, Mali, and Tunisia, while also noting some of the difficulties in democratic transitions in places such as Bangladesh. He also shares his reflections on the Arab Spring.

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John Owen IV on Confronting Political Islam, Historical Lessons

As ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical forms of political Islam take center stage in the news and policy circles, can we learn anything about the broad-based movement known as Islamism from the history of Europe? Prof. John Owen IV discusses how the West has dealt with its own radical ideological struggles and the parallels we can draw to the present situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Does a Scottish rebellion in the 1560s have anything worth informing us about the Taliban? Find out!

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Karen Elliott House on Journalism and Saudi Arabia

Pulitzer Prize recipient Karen Elliott House joins us to discuss her career as a diplomatic correspondent in the Middle East for the Wall Street Journal and a number of important changes that are occurring in what many consider to be one of the most stable countries in that turbulent region. After discussing the life of a female reporter covering a male-dominated culture, which has a few surprising benefits, we review Saudi Arabia’s socio-economic landscape and internal tensions that are generating support for reform.

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Kevan Harris on Iran’s Islamic Revolution and Green Movement

With Iran in the news recently, we consult with Kevan Harris of Princeton’s Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies on the country’s recent history from its 1979 Islamic Revolution to the stalled Green “Revolution” (or movement) in the past half decade. Prof. Harris explains the process of social mobilization in 1979 and how it differed in 2009, as well as how the Islamic regime consolidated its rule over the past quarter century.

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Ann Wainscott on the Politics of Islam in Morocco

What explains the emergence of political Islam, particularly a Salafi variant of this movement, in Morocco? Ann Wainscott, a graduate student at the University of Florida, advances a novel explanation relating to educational reform. In an attempt to forestall advancing leftist influence in society during the 1960s and ’70s, the regime of King Hasan II promoted greater Islamic education within the country’s public school system that had the unintended consequence of creating new space for Islamists. While this is not the only reason for the emergence of an Islamist movement in Morocco, it represents an often-overlooked piece of the puzzle.

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Matthew Derrick on the Geography of the Umma

The notion of “the umma” — the community of Islamic believers — is often thought to be at odds with modern (post-Westphalian) notions of national territory. Islam, it is said, transcends the geographic boundaries of the nation-state and this may present unique problems for how societies understand and interact with one another. Prof. Matthew Derrick discusses the role of territory in history and how the umma fits into this, taking on scholars such as Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis who see a disjuncture between the umma and national territory. Prof. Derrick, a geographer, argues that territory is still important and often trumps transnational religious identity, or is at least a concept that cannot be discarded so easily.

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William Inboden on Religious Liberty, Foreign Policy, & the Arab Spring

With events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East changing rapidly, we take a look at how the issue of religious liberty is taking form in countries touched by the Arab Spring (or Arab Awakening). Prof. William Inboden of the University of Texas, and a former policy advisor, explains what the Arab Spring is, how it came about, and how issues of religious freedom play into the political changes we are witnessing in that region of the world. We also discuss whether the US should be promoting religious liberty in its foreign policy as a means of limiting extremism and violence.

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