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Christine L. Williams, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2009

SOC 308 • Sectarian Politics in Contemporary Muslim Societies

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46414 MWF
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
CPE 2.206
ALI

Course Description

This course examines the intricacies of sectarian politics in contemporary Muslim societies from a political-sociological perspective. We will look at various political actors and their interactions in the context of broader political processes and long-term social-historical conditions that have shaped the contemporary political realities of many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. The course takes both a country-specific and a comparative and geo-political approach to map the patterns and variations relating to the above themes. It will cover major debates and students will be encouraged to draw from particular empirical cases in their oral presentations, in-class debates, and assignments. In addition to class readings, relevant audio/visual material will be incorporated in the course. At the end of the course, students will be expected to demonstrate:

1. Knowledge of key political actors (individuals, organizations, institutions, foreign actors/influences) and important events and developments in each of these countries.
2. Familiarity with major debates regarding the colonial and postcolonial history, political processes, intersection of multiple causes, and geo-political impacts on the origins, forms, and outcomes of sectarian politics.
3. Familiarity with the critical debates regarding the presumptions and limitations in the historiography of Islam and the Muslim World.
4. Ability to apply their understandings to particular empirical cases and events.

Grading Policy

2 multiple choice and short answer exams 30% each
Assignments and Term project 30%
Class participation 10%

Texts

Selections from the following texts:
Mamdani, Mahmood, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror, Pantheon, 2004
Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza, The Shia Revival: How Conflict within Islam will Shape the Future, Norton, 2006

Several selected articles

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