A lecture by Darryl Li, Harvard University
In recent decades, transnational Islamist movements have played an increasingly prominent role in wars involving Muslim populations worldwide, from Afghanistan to Chechnya to the former Yugoslavia. These Muslim travelers have, in the name of a multicultural world religion theoretically open to all mankind, posited their efforts as alternatives to the interventions of the western-dominated 'international community.' This research explores how such activists, in this case Arab fighters and aid workers, concretize and contest Islam's universalist ideals in a specific context: Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnia is a productive site for studying cross-cultural relations within Islam (between Bosnian Muslims and arriving Arab activists) as well as the relationship between transnational Islamist movements and the 'west,' as self-consciously represented by the country's Euro-American international administration.
Darryl Li's research is broadly concerned with the relationship between three themes: empire, war, and encounters between people from different (non-western) regions and cultures. He has been exploring these themes through research on Arab Muslim travelers and immigrants in non-Arab Muslim societies experiencing armed conflict, especially fighters and aid workers in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s. The latter is the primary site for his ongoing dissertation research.
Related to his work on transnational Islamist movements is a concern with understanding evolving forms of the transnational use of violence and coercion by the U.S. national security state. Drawing on his legal training, he focuses on various forms of proxy detention and rendition targeting transnational Muslim populations, as well as legal rationales conflating categories of external and internal warfare under a broader logic of global civil war.
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
Sponsor(s): Anthropology, Co-sponsored by Culture, Power, Social Change group, UCLA Anthropology Dept.
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