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Islam and Politics, Muslim Diasporas, Historical Photography Anchor Spring Programs
Journals from European Muslim communities. Courtesy UCLA Young Research Library.

Islam and Politics, Muslim Diasporas, Historical Photography Anchor Spring Programs

More than 50 scholars from around the world participate in a host of academic activities sponsored by CNES

By Jonathan Friedlander

Spring quarter 2006 promises to be one of the busiest and most interesting in recent times at the Center for Near Eastern Studies, as more than 50 scholars contribute to two seminars, two conferences, a workshop and a speakers bureau featuring distinguished academics, diplomats, and Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

A wide range of lectures, from Islamist Movements and the Problem of Democracy in the Arab World to Islamic Education and Madrasas in the UK and the US, continues the discussion of Islam that CNES has promoted since 2003, and that culminates annually in dual Spring-term seminars that attract a diverse audience of students, scholars, members of the local Middle Eastern American and Muslim communities and the public at large. These two seminars, entitled Islam and the Political Regime and Muslim Diaspora Communities in Europe and North America, led by CNES Director Leonard Binder and CNES alumnus Samy Shavit Swayd, respectively, feature a total of 17 guest lecturers.

In studying the relationship between Islam and the political regime at the present historical conjuncture, one seminar will consider the impact of pressures to democratize and the volatile transformation of identitive politics, as well as the difference between the direction of identitive politics among the Arabs and the non-Arab peoples of the Middle East. Nine visiting scholars will make presentations based on their current research on the relationship between democratization and authoritarianism, with special reference to Islamic participation in countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.

Another eight scholars explore a wide range of topics related to Muslim diasporas in Europe and North America, from Lobbying for Muslim Interests in the European Union to Islam in the German Gym Class and Muslim American Literature. The course aims to survey some of the issues facing these diaspora communities and examine how such issues contribute to the (re)construction of Muslim diasporic identities, with particular emphasis on major developments in the past three decades, and especially since September 11, 2001.

The seminar dates and times, speakers and lecture titles are listed in the Center's online calendar, along with other events (see below) scheduled from April to June 2006.

In co-sponsorship with the Getty Foundation and the UCLA Department of Art History, CNES hosts a colloquium on April 27 entitled The Paradox of Vision: Photography in the Middle East. Organized by Art History Department Chair Irene Bierman and Getty Foundation Program Officer Nancy Micklewright, the colloquium brings together several distinguished scholars who have approached the study of historical photographs from a variety of perspectives. They are Stephen Sheehi of the American University of Beirut, Kathleen Stewart Howe, Director of the Pomona College Museum of Art, Joan Schwartz of Queen's University in Canada, and Ali Behdad, Chair of UCLA's Comparative Literature Department. Historical photographs from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are complex documents whose interpretation is shifting and contingent, yet it is their very instability as carriers of meaning that makes them such a valuable resource in the study of various social and political discourses. In their complexity and instability, they are revealing of the complex nature of social discourse around issues of empire, imperialism, colonialism, class and gender in the Middle East.

CNES will also co-sponsor two major conferences this Spring. Armenia: Challenges of Sustainable Development, to be held on May 6, features a panel discussion on Growth and Poverty Reduction in Armenia: Achievements and Challenges. Another panel will address selected topics in economic development, including Factors Behind the Stubbornly Low Tax Collection; Remittances, Poverty and Growth; The Social Dimension of Economic Development and Poverty; and Problems and Challenges of Financial Sector Development. Organized by Richard Hovannisian in honor of the distinguished UCLA economist and mentor Armen Alchian, the conference is also co-sponsored by the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History, the UCLA Economics Department, and the Armenian International Policy Research Group (AIPRG).

Turning to expressions of Islam in Asia and beyond, the Center will co-sponsor the May 15 symposium on Islam and Southeast Asia: Local, National and Transnational Studies. A panel on local historical studies, with presentations on Historiography of Violence and the Secular State in Indonesia; Hamka and "Our Place in the World"; and Competitive Colonialisms: A History of Siam and the Malay Muslim South, will be followed by explorations of Islam in contemporary Indonesia, featuring presentations entitled What is Indonesian Islam?; The Legacy of State Violence in Post-New Order Indonesia; and Muslim and Christian Relations in Southeast Maluku. These will be complemented by discussions of transnational linkages including The Longue-Duree Economics of the Southeast Asian Hajj; Transnational Islam and the Politics of Indonesian Labor in Saudi Arabia; and International Influences on Indonesia's Jihadist Movement.  The symposium is organized by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies with support from the UCLA International Institute.

The Near East Center's ongoing Scholar and Diplomat Lecture Series welcomes Din Syamsuddin, Chairman of the Muhammadiyah Movement in Indonesia, on May 1st.  The Center's 2005-06 Persian Lecture Series concludes on May 15 with a public lecture by Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize, speaking on the subject of her recent book, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope.

For dates, times and locations of all these events, please visit the Calendar page of our website.

For more info please contact:
Peter Szanton
310-825-1455
pszanton@international.ucla.edu

Center for Near Eastern Studies