This module is concerned with a diverse range of approaches deployed by anthropologists to the study of Islam and Muslim lives in the contemporary world. The aim of the module is to familiarize students with the complex intertwinements between Islam as a set of sacred texts and a world religious tradition, and the ways in which these are locally understood, interpreted and experienced throughout specific historical, social and political contexts. The key topics covered in this module focus on contemporary economic, political, religious and social developments in the Muslim world such as religious nationalism; war on terror and Islamophobia; the socio-cultural impact of new technologies on religious practice; the practice and politics of pilgrimage; gender; sectarianism and secularism; colonialism, imperialism and globalisation; diasporic Islam; or charity and social justice. This module will develop students' awareness of the strengths and limitations of anthropological insights compared to other disciplinary perspectives on Islam and Muslim lives, and more generally how these influence larger debates on the anthropological study of religion and politics.
This module will be taught by means of a 1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar for 12 weeks.
This module contributes to BSc: Anthropology; BA: Social Anthropology; Joint Honours; with a Language; with a Year Abroad
Method of assessment
100% Coursework; consisting of 2000 word research essay, 1200 word critical book review and individual seminar presentation
• Bowen, J. (2012) A New Anthropology of Islam. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Gilsenan, M (2000) Recognising Islam: Religion and Society in the Modern Middle East. London: I.B. Taurius
• Kreinath, J (2011) The Anthropology of Islam Reader. London: Routledge.
• Marsden, M. and Retsikas, K. eds. (2012) Articulating Islam: Anthropological Approaches to Muslim Worlds. Dordrecht: Springer.
• Osella, F. and Soares, B. eds. (2010) Islam, Politics, Anthropology. Oxford: Willey-Blackwell.
• Shryock, A. ed. (2010) Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successful completion of this module, students should:
Be conversant in the main themes and trends of the anthropology of Islam, and comparative study of Muslim societies and cultures.
Have cultivated an in-depth critical understanding of the historical depth and cultural diversity of a number of Islamic traditions, cosmologies and practices in both urban and rural contexts, and at a regional, national and global levels.
Have acquired a critical understanding of the historical development of those societies, cultures, cosmologies, and practices.
Be able to apply anthropological insights to contemporary economic, political, religious and social developments in the Muslim world e.g. religious nationalism; war on terror; the socio-cultural impact of new technologies on religious practice; the practice and politics of pilgrimage; gender; sectarianism and secularism; globalisation; and to develop awareness of the strengths and limitations of these insights compared to other disciplinary perspectives on Islam and Muslim lives.
Understand the impact of study of Muslim societies on the anthropological study of religion and politics.
Be knowledgeable about key theoretical contributions of the anthropology of Islam to the wider discipline and their leading role in shaping wider anthropological debates and disciplinary reflexivity.
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