Globalization and the Muslim World Prof. Mahmood Monshipouri Middle East and Islamic Studies—SFSU February 24, 2009 Definitions Globalization is a thoroughly contested subject and there are competing definitions Roland Robertson (Univ. of Aberdeen): ―Globalization refers both to the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness about the world as a whole.‖ Technology- and economic-driven processes: facilitated by global capitalism, consumerism, transnational migration, online communications, and identity politics. Globalization is a set of contradictory and contingent processes. Features Thomas Hylland Eriksen (Univ. of Oslo): Disembedding: distance is becoming irrelevant, relative, or at the very least less important (de- localization) Acceleration (speed an important feature of globalization) Interconnectedness (transnational connections and information era global symbols, events, solidarities) Re-embedding: concerns with local power and community integration, national and sub-national identity politics. Paradoxes Globalization does not create ―global persons.‖ The disembedding forces of globalization are complemented by re-embedding projects seeking to retain or recreate a sense of continuity, security, and trust. Identity politics—religious, ethnic, national, or regional—is a typical form of resistance to globalization. Paradoxically, identity politics insisting on the primacy of the local and unique tends to draw on globalized resources such as international NGOs and computer networks. Is There a ‘Glocal’ Way? Meshing the universal with the particular? In some societies, the freedom of the individual is seen as the highest value, while in others, the integrity of the family, which gives the individual security, is deemed more important. Human rights must be interpreted, contextualized, and sometimes prioritized in order to be useful. Views on Globalization Traditionalist: resistance to globalization; they see globalization as a new form of cultural imperialism. Globalizers: Economic interdependence is inevitable. So is cultural change. Transformationalists: Culture flows are not simply one-way. States and cultures are not going away, but seeking a new way to accommodate changes without losing national features and cultural values. Islam Islamic resurgence a reaction to defeats in wars, corrupt secular regimes, and disruptive modernization trends. Islamic piety as an alternative construction of modernity, cognizant of non-materialist dimensions of progress and their place in an ethical, Islamic social formation. The Rise of Islam Anti-colonialism Renunciation of the antiseptically secularizing tendencies of modernity Calling into question political and cultural life that are lacking in ethical or moral content. Anti-globalization largely in a cultural sense Piety in Islam Piety as faith Piety as covenant Piety as a social movement Piety as a resistance to foreign intrusion Islam’s appeal also lies in being able to connect the faith, the covenant, and the mobilizing elements to produce powerful resistance to foreign intrusion. The crucial dimension is not economic but social. Islamic Perspectives Traditional Islam: orthodox, non-modern, relying on Sunna and the holy book Neorevivalist (neofundamentalist) Islam: militant and radical Islam; resistance and revolutionary Pragmatists: accepting ―the other,‖ faces up to this challenge by reminding us of the eternal, but Herculean, task of balancing utility, with responsibility and justice. Secularists: Benefiting from its ―positive opportunities‖ in knowledge, science, and technology, without necessarily losing one’s cultural individuality: Arab-Islamic, Persian-Islamic, and Egyptian-Islamic identity. Reactions Traditionalists: globalization is a form of cultural invasion. It undermines our distinct ―cultural personality.‖ It destroys our heritage and poses a threat to our ―authenticity,‖ ―beliefs,‖ and ―national identity.‖ Islamic radicals: have been in fact strengthened by globalization. They benefit from an increase in the flow of information, speed of communication, and mobility more than any other political movements in the region. The Conflict Within James H. Mittelman (American Univ., Washington, D.C.) The continuing struggles within the Muslim world: ―Resurgent Islamic movements project a vision of modernity that fuses an ethical dimension for establishing an alternative world order with a struggle for empowerment.‖ ―These varied groups aim to construct an identity denied to them in a globalizing world.‖ (1996: 240). Mutual Adjustments Pragmatic Islam: A democratizing and synthesizing Islam, reflecting influences from the bottom (grassroots and social movements), is better placed to respond to globalization. For the Western world, the task is to acknowledge the diversity of the Muslim world, and strive toward a solidarity based on mutual recognition and respect. Muslims in Europe There are 23 million Muslim immigrants in Europe In Europe 33 and plus Russia: there will approximately 50 million Muslim immigrants France with 6 million and Germany with more than 3 million are host to the largest Muslim immigrants. Islam has gone global through the new transnational identity and networks. Globalized Islam Olivier Roy: Globalized Islam has contributed to the sociological Westernization of Muslim immigrants, as many European Muslims seem to have multiple and overlapping identities. Peter Mandaville (George Mason Univ.): This is the case especially as second and third generation Muslim immigrants tend to have trans-local identity. Cyberspace Mandaville: Cyberspace has created a ―third space‖ for the younger generation of immigrants. A growing number of Muslim immigrants, especially second and third generation Muslims, tend to discover identities of their own, which belong neither to their parent’s homeland nor to the country in which they reside–that is, ―in- between.‖ Enlargement of Europe Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Islam are transnational religious traditions that each have their conception of European identity, European unity, and even of European modernity. Muslim have become permanent members of the European societies in large part because of the emerging demographic trends. Aging population of Europe poses a clear and present threat to economic growth of European countries. Globalization and Economic Rights Roy: migration to Europe has created a sizable underclass and jobless youth, many of whom were born and socialized in Western secular democracies. They tend to reject their minority status and feel utterly dejected. Elevating Muslim immigrants’ economic conditions is bound to have a moderating impact on their social and political attitudes. Multiculturalism If not properly adopted, multiculturalism would only serve as a framework for the coexistence of separate cultures or groups. Assimilation is unlikely to work in European multicultural societies. That is an unrealistic expectation. Headscarf-Hijab issue: has become an empowering statement of individual and collective Islamic identity. Should women be able to choose? Identity-Rights Nexus Dominic McGoldrick (Univ. of Liverpool): Identity is an aspect of individual human dignity, autonomy, and self-determination. Identity is an aspect of religious freedom, expression, and privacy that ―allows individuals to function freely and to enjoy the possibility of self-definition and self- determination. Women’s Voices Globalization has diffused certain effects and values. The women’s movements have taken advantage of such developments to advance gender equality. Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) is an international solidarity network that provides information, support, and a collective space for women whose lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and customs said to derive from Islam. Europe Integrationist vs. differentialist models France equates national identity with homogeneity of the nation. A central part of French national identity is premised on the idea that it is a secular state(Laïcité ). Britain: whether to give state funding to private Islamic schools France: female students wearing a headscarf in public schools? Germany: whether to grant ―public corporation‖ status to Muslim minorities Conclusions Muslim identities are multiple, fluid, and contentious, and the construction of identity is influenced by the various and complex ways in which local cultures and globalization interact. There will always be cultural resistance to globalization. Muslims face two challenges: (1) to find a balance between their traditions and modern standards and practices and (2) to determine whose conception of change and modernity should prevail? The struggle within the Muslim world rages on.
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