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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2017-18

ANTH 19 Islam: Tradition and Transformation

Islam is a global religion. It is practiced by one-quarter of the world’s population, in a range of distinctive ways that vary across linguistic, national, and other ancient and modern boundaries. What are the ideas, beliefs, or rituals that unite the world’s diverse Muslim communities under the rubric of Islam? Conversely, what distinguishes Muslim beliefs and practices from one another in different times and places, and how might we interpret these distinctions in anthropological terms? Drawing on a rich and rapidly expanding body of research into one of the world’s great faith traditions, this course introduces students to the study of Islam as both an historical tradition and a lived reality. Our course integrates anthropological approaches to understanding Islam with textual and social historical ones. The anthropological approach values the study of sacred texts and practices as they are locally understood throughout the world and in different historical contexts. This course focuses on Islam as practiced in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, Africa, Central Asia, and in Europe and North America. It seeks to appreciate the contributions of religious leaders and activists as much as ordinary believers, showing the multiple ways in which Muslims throughout the world have contributed to the vitality of the Islamic tradition. Many different people and groups, including violent ones, claim to speak for Islam. This course suggests ways of re-thinking increasingly vocal debates concerning “authentic” Islam and who speaks for it.

Cross Listed Courses


Distributive and/or World Culture

Dist:SOC; WCult:CI

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.


Not offered in the period from 16F through 17S