Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Islam and the Nation-State

Islam and Nation-State in the Middle East

WEDNESDAYS 3:00-6:00
MES 385 (40765)

Course Description:

What happens when the boundaries that separate the religious realm from the secular become meaningless and increasingly porous? How do we determine whether a discourse or action is “religious” or “secular”? This historiographical seminar traces the history of the formation of a new class of Islamic leaders in the Arab world during the twentieth century. A special emphasis is placed on the ways the modern state has configured and shaped the religious domain through coercive reforms. The central theme of this course is the examination of the impact of the top-down reforms that set off two significant cultural developments. First, the rise of political theology (mistakenly called Fundamentalism) that fused religion with politics that ultimately led to contest the legitimacy of the state. Second, the creation of ideas like “cultural authenticity” and the new articulation of “Islamic normativity” that identified who is a heretic, true Muslim, progressive, or apostate.


Meet the Professor

Ahmad Agbaria holds a Ph.D. in History of the Modern Middle East, from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to UT, he studied at Tel Aviv University. His research focuses on Israel and the Arab world, Hebrew and Arabic literature and cultures; Cultural history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Arabic translations and Publishing houses; Arab Left. 

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