POLS 079. Islam and Muslims in the West

In the post-9/11 West, the figure of the Muslim has become central to heated political debates over the meaning of secularism, democracy, and citizenship. Politicians and pundits on both the left and right have equated Islam with violence and terrorism despite the small minority of self-professed Muslims who carry out such attacks. This perception has called into question Islam's compatibility with Western values and ways of life. Such discussions raise new questions about the limits of free speech, the challenges of multiculturalism, women's rights, gender equality, and sexuality, as well as the visibility of religion in the public sphere. This class offers a critical survey of contemporary debates on Islam in the West and examines the diversity of lived experiences of Western Muslims in Europe and the United States. It focuses on the ways in which ethnic, religious, and racial minorities are incorporated into and/or excluded from processes of nation formation. We will consider how notions of belonging, citizenship, and otherness have been defined in particular locales, how they are socialized through a variety of institutional contexts, and how they change over time. Our readings draw from a broad range of academic disciplines and cover topical issues such as the headscarf affair, cartoon controversies, and rising Islamophobia. Over the course of the semester, students will have the opportunity to develop independent research projects based on their own areas of interest.
Social Sciences.
1 credit.
Catalog chapter: Political Science
Department website: http://www.swarthmore.edu/political-science

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