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The Islamic World (James Baldwin)

As a historiographical category, the “Islamic World” has a controversial past. Critics of the concept argued that it glossed over the great diversity of a vast region, and that it unjustifiably foregrounded Islam as the fundamental force structuring and guiding these societies. In the hands of scholars who instinctively associated progress with secularism, the “Islamic World” became one of several tools with which the modern, dynamic West was distinguished from the moribund, irrational Orient. But the category Islamic World may also have much to offer the global history project. Global historians are interested in global connections created by culture, commerce, migration, and transnational political forms such as empire. These are the things that held together the Islamic World, which created not only a global religion but two global languages (Arabic and Persian), encompassed vital global trade routes (the Indian Ocean and the Silk Road), was home to many diasporas (Greek, Jewish, Armenian, Hadrami), and produced numerous great empires (Abbasid, Timurid, Ottoman, Mughal, British).

In this seminar we will consider key questions that emerge when studying the Islamic World from a global history perspective. What makes the Islamic World a coherent unit? What connection does the Islamic World have with Islam? How do we characterize relations between the Islamic and the non-Islamic worlds? How should historians balance the globalizing pressure of the Islamic World with the local particularities of different Muslim societies? Is the Islamic World still meaningful in the age of modern globalization?

Readings

Core:

Cemil Aydin, “Globalizing the Intellectual History of the Idea of the Muslim World,” in Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori (eds.), Global Intellectual History (Columbia University Press, 2015), 159-86.

Nile Green, Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean (Cambridge University Press, 2011). [e-book]

Further:

Sebouh David Aslanian, From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa (University of California Press, 2011).

James Gelvin and Nile Green, eds., Global Muslims in the Age of Steam and Print (University of California Press, 2014).

Nile Green, Terrains of Exchange: Religious Economies of Global Islam (C. Hurst & Co, 2015).

Janet Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony: The World System, 1250-1350 (Oxford University Press, 1991).

Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Michael Cook, Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Stephen Dale, The Muslim Empires of the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

John Darwin, After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000 (Penguin, 2008).

Faisal Devji, Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality and Modernity (C. Hurst & Co, 2005).

Richard Eaton, “Islamic History as Global History,” in Islamic and European Expansion: The Forging of a Global Order, ed. Michael Adas (Temple University Press, 1993).

Richard Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760 (University of California Press, 1996).

Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, 3 vols. (University of Chicago Press, 1977).

Marshall Hodgson, Rethinking World History: Essays on Europe, Islam and World History (Cambridge University Press, 1993).

Roel Meijer, Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement (C. Hurst & Co, 2009).

Alan Mikhail and Christine Philliou, “The Ottoman Empire and the Imperial Turn,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 54 (2012), 721-45.

Edward Said, Orientalism (Penguin, 2003).