January 20, 2011, 6:00pm
Nationalism, Anarchism and Reform: Understanding Political Islam From the Inside Out
Presenter: James Gelvin, Department of History, UCLA
Location: Stiteler B26

Ever since George W. Bush declared a "Global War against Terrorism" a decade ago, we still do not have a clear understanding of who our enemy is.  Should the United States be engaged in war against what is, after all, a tactic, and does the term terrorism provide us with an adequate understanding of America's enemies in the post-9/11 world?  How might we differentiate among groups such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic Action Front of Jordan, and Hamas, all of which might be placed within the category of "political Islam"?  Drawing from the words of the participants in these groups themselves, this talk will provide an alternative scheme for classifying Islamic groups based on their goals, not their tactics, in order to distinguish between those which are our enemies, those which we may not like but we can live with, and those which have been mistakenly caught in the cross-fire.   

James Gelvin is a Professor of History at UCLA who focuses his work on the social and cultural history of the Modern Middle East with an emphasis on Greater Syria.  His recent publications include a forthcoming book entitiled From Modernization to Globalization: The United States, the Middle East and the World Economy in the Twentieth Century, Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire (Berkeley, 1998), and the textbook The Modern Middle East: A History Oxford, 3rd edition, 2011).

The Middle East Center, the Muslim Students Association, Penn for Palestine and the Department of History at Swarthmore College.