Colgate University

First-Year Course Offerings — Fall 2022

FSEM 187   Muslim Cultures and Global Modernity
RestrictionsNo 2025 2024 2023
DistributionSocial Relations,Inst.& Agents
Core AreaNone

Faculty Profile for Professor Spadola

Using the theoretical and methodological tools of cultural anthropology, students address fundamental questions regarding Islam in contemporary and historical societies: What is Islam? How have different Muslims interpreted Islam in the past, and how do Muslims in different cultures live their religion differently today? To pursue these questions students begin with a discussion on the modern politics of interpreting Islam—how 19th and 20th century Western colonial powers established an “Orientalist” view of Islam both as overly sensuous and inherently violent—and how these interpretations remain in force today. From there students discuss Islam’s historical origins in 7th century Arabia and the development of key social institutions of law and learning in Muslim empires to the 19th century. From there students dive into Islam’s distinct modern history of transformation under 19th century European colonialism and global capitalism. Finally, students pursue in-depth cultural studies of Islam in specific contemporary nation-states and regions, with a repeated emphasis on the late 20th and 21st century Islamic Revival. Students who successfully complete this seminar will earn credit for ANTH/MIST 252 and satisfy one half of the social relations, institutions, and agents area of inquiry requirement.

As a 20-year-old in 1992 I left college for a year and traveled in Europe and Morocco; Europe felt mostly familiar. Morocco (a Muslim culture) felt utterly different--foreign. Although I could not have predicted it then, this encounter was decisive in my life: As a social-cultural anthropologist I now specialize in the study of Islam and spend years and months at a time in Morocco.