The University of Alberta’s Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies research group is hosting an event on March 1 that will be of interest to those involved in Palestinian issues and the broader Middle East.

Islamic Reform and Emancipatory Politics in the Age of Extremism and Neoliberalism
Featuring Siavash Saffari and Mojtaba Mahdavi
Thursday, February 8 (3:30 pm – 5:00 pm)
Telus Centre Room 134
Corner of 111 St & 87 Ave, University of Alberta (map)

An incessant search for the “Martin Luther of Islam” is ongoing in Western media and academia alike. Propelling this search is the misapprehension that just as Luther ended the dark ages of Christianity, a courageous Muslim visionary must now usher in an era of Islamic reformation and enlightenment. Its historically and theologically-false equivalency aside, the plea for a “Martin Luther of Islam” wholly ignores over a century of reformist efforts since the late-19th century al-Nahda (renaissance) movement. Far from lacking religious reformation, Muslim-majority societies have witnessed the rise and contestation of a wide range of religious reform initiatives, each with its own agents, methods, and objectives. The fallacious question of “who is the Martin Luther of Islam?”, therefore, must be relinquished in favor of more meaningful questions such as: what social, political, and economic visions are advanced by each of the existing Islamic reform projects? How do these projects respond to the present challenges of political authoritarianism, gender injustice, neoliberalism, and climate change? And which, if any, of these multivariate projects may ultimately contribute to the advancement of an emancipatory and progressive vision for our common future?

Read the full description on the MEIS website.

Arab Revolutions in Post-Islamist Times: Revolution without Revolutionaries
Featuring Professor Asef Bayat
Thursday, March 1 (6:00 – 8:00 pm)
Telus Centre Room 150
Corner of 111 St & 87 Ave, University of Alberta (map)

On the Seventh anniversary of the Arab Spring, Professor Asef Bayat, a prominent sociologist and a distinguished theorist of social movements in the Middle East, will argue that The revolutionary wave that swept the Middle East in 2011 was marked by spectacular mobilization, spreading within and between countries with extraordinary speed. Several years on, however, it has caused limited shifts in structures of power, leaving much of the old political and social order intact. In his most recent book Revolution without Revolutionaries, Professor Asef Bayat— whose Life as Politics anticipated the Arab Spring— uncovers why this occurred, and what made these uprisings so distinct from those that came before. Setting the 2011 uprisings side by side with the revolutions of the 1970s, particularly the Iranian Revolution, Asef Bayat reveals a profound global shift in the nature of protest: as acceptance of neoliberal policy has spread, radical revolutionary impulses have diminished. Protestors call for reform rather than fundamental transformation. By tracing the contours and illuminating the meaning of the 2011 uprisings, Bayat gives us the what is needed to explain and understand our post–Arab Spring world.

Read the full description on the MEIS website.

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