August 2 - August 30
Sundays and Tuesdays
5pm - 7pm
August 3 - August 31
Mondays and Wednesdays
7pm - 9pm
Course convener: A. M. Awad
During the twentieth century, “Islam" was constructed to fit the structures of Western modernity: from Saudi Arabia, where the European nation-state is the framework for Islamic governance, to cities like Amman, where bourgeois culture dictates the form of religious practice. The past twenty years have intensified this process, as neocolonial and neoliberal development grew in size and scope.
The modern construction of Islam is supported by a particular intellectual tradition, which assumes that modernity is natural and desirable and that Islam must accommodate it. This tradition continues to operate not only in mainstream media and international development, but also in the social sciences. For the most part, it has been internalised by a spectrum of conservative, liberal, and secular Muslims today.
In this seminar, we will challenge the basis for this tradition. During the first half, we will dispute the assumption that modernity is natural and desirable, analysing its inherent limitations and internal contradictions using Critical Theory. What is the link between modernity and the catastrophes of colonialism, capitalist exploitation, and the devaluation of human life? In this inquiry, we will also reflect on the "Christian" character of secular modernity.
If modernity is not as natural or desirable as it seems, then how might pre-modern ways of life inform it? In the second half of the seminar, we will follow recent Arab scholars in using the history of Islam as a resource for a critique of modern life. Our focus will be on the role of governance, community, and morality. To what degree might pre-modern ways of life emancipate us from the stronghold of the present, including modern movements within Islam?
Throughout the course, we will grapple with a series of philosophical questions: what are the epistemological limits to accessing pre-modern ways of life? If access is granted, how might such ways of life transform the present considering our entrenchment within modern structures? Course readings include Weber, Adorno, Asad, Hallaq, and Massad; an array of news material; and anthropological studies from the United States and Jordan.
Tuition: 240 JDs. Scholarships available