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Jihadi Islam Conference/Workshop

A one-day conference/workshop on jihadism and jihadi movements organized by Professor James Gelvin

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
UCLA Faculty Center
California Room
Los Angeles, CA 90095

In the six years that have passed since the events of 11 September, numerous books and articles about jihadism and jihadi movements such as al-Qaeda have appeared. Some of these books and articles might be categorized as policy analyses that use terrorism (and counterterrorism) as their fundamental units of analysis. Others employ an idealist history of ideas approach—ibn Taymiyyah to Qutb to Farag to Azzam to Zawahiri—­to account for the lineages of contemporary movements. Still others emphasize the role played by contingent factors—American support for the Afghan mujahidin, the rise of “petro-Islam,” the radicalization of Egyptian Islam in response to the policies of Nasser and Sadat, or any combination of the three—to explain their appearance. A common thread that runs through most accounts, however, is their underlying assumption of Islamic or Middle Eastern exceptionalism.

This conference/workshop will bring together leading scholars to take stock of the various approaches applied to the study of jihadism and jihadi movements, discuss the assumptions and methodological problems encountered by researchers, and propose alternative approaches to the study of these phenomena that conform to more broadly applicable historical and social science practice. Participants will address three problems in particular: typologizing jihadi movements, historicizing their emergence, and tracing their genealogies.


Conference Schedule

9:00 am    


9:10 am   


Osama bin Laden as Media Star: The Making of an Information Age Anti-Hero
Bruce Lawrence, Duke University

10:20 am   

Coffee Break

10:40 am   


The Wahhabi Factor in Jihadi Islam
David Dean Commins, Dickinson College

Jihad in Modern Shi'a Thought
Rola El-Husseini, Texas A&M University

12:40 pm   


2:00 pm   


Jihad of the Song: Music and Struggles for Social Change in Muslim Majority Countries
Mark LeVine, University of California, Irvine

Al-Qaeda and Anarchism: A Historian’s Reply to Terrorology
James L. Gelvin, University of California, Los Angeles

4:00 pm    

Coffee Break

4:20 pm - 5:30 pm


Patrick Geary, University of California, Los Angeles
Participants and Audience


Some of the papers to be presented at the conference are available in PDF form.  To view one, please click on the title of the lecture.




Cost : Free

PeterSzanton, Center for Near Eastern Studies
(310) 825-1455

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Department of History

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