Globalization and the
Prof. Mahmood Monshipouri
Middle East and Islamic Studies—SFSU
February 24, 2009
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
Thomas Hylland Eriksen (Univ. of Oslo):
Disembedding: distance is becoming irrelevant,
relative, or at the very least less important (de-
Acceleration (speed an important feature of
Interconnectedness (transnational connections and
information era global symbols, events, solidarities)
Re-embedding: concerns with local power and
community integration, national and sub-national
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
Identity politics—religious, ethnic, national, or
regional—is a typical form of resistance to
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
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
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.
Islamic resurgence a reaction to defeats in wars,
corrupt secular regimes, and disruptive
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
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
The crucial dimension is not economic but social.
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
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.,
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.‖
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
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
Islam has gone global through the new
transnational identity and networks.
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
Mandaville: Cyberspace has created a ―third
space‖ for the younger generation of
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-
Enlargement of Europe
Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Islam are transnational
religious traditions that each have their conception of
European identity, European unity, and even of
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.
Roy: migration to Europe has created a sizable
underclass and jobless youth, many of whom
were born and socialized in Western secular
They tend to reject their minority status and feel
Elevating Muslim immigrants’ economic
conditions is bound to have a moderating
impact on their social and political attitudes.
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
Headscarf-Hijab issue: has become an empowering
statement of individual and collective Islamic identity.
Should women be able to choose?
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-
Globalization has diffused certain effects and
values. The women’s movements have taken
advantage of such developments to advance
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.
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
France: female students wearing a headscarf in public
Germany: whether to grant ―public corporation‖ status
to Muslim minorities
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
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.