HIS 388K • ISLAMIC HISTORIOGRAPHY
Islam has long been both a European and American source of fascination. This seminar investigates the origin and development of these perspectives, tracing their medieval and premodern points of origin in Western historiography. In this first part of the course, students will be exposed to the transatlantic nature of these perceptions and their eerie impact on questions of religion, politics, and citizenship in the present day. The seminar contrasts this entrenched Western historiography with the difficulties of generalizing about very different, dynamic Muslim populations in contemporary European and American settings. Challenges faced by Muslims regarding tolerance, integration, pluralism, and the secular will be traced as part of a continuing historical process of defining the nature of citizenship in European and American identities in a post-9/11 world. The approach to these topics in this reading and research class is interdisciplinary, with a strong focus on religion and politics. Attention will also be paid to the categories of race, gender, ethnicity, and sectarian identity. After a unifying series of secondary readings, students will be encouraged to pursue their own research interests in a final project.
Readings include, for example, Nabil Matar, Islam in Britain, 1558-1685; Margaret Meserve, Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought; Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World, 1776-1815; Timorthy Marr, The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism; Sylviane A. Diouf, Servants of Allah: Africans Enslaved in the Americas; Michael A. Gomez, Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas; Tariq Ramadan, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam; Jane Smith, Islam in America; Liyakat Takim, Shi'ism in America; Abdulkader H. Sinno, Muslims in Western Politics.