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ERIC Number: EJ828143
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 87
ISSN: ISSN-1361-7672
Islam(s) in Context: Orientalism and the Anthropology of Muslim Societies and Cultures
McLoughlin, Sean
Journal of Beliefs & Values, v28 n3 p273-296 Dec 2007
This article begins to fill a gap in recent discussions of the future of Islamic studies with an account of the nature and significance of Anthropological and Ethnographic contributions to the study of Islam and Muslims. Drawing attention to both the problem of essence in Orientalism and the dissolution of Islam's significance for Muslims in Said's (1978) anti-Orientalism, the article examines how shifts between essence and silence have been played out in the short history of Anthropology, from colonial ethnography through functionalism to the relationship between so-called Great and Little Traditions, the fresh impetus of Geertz's (1968) "Islam Observed" and subsequent debates about Islam and plural islams. My account culminates with discussion of an increasingly specialised and interdisciplinary body of work on the reproduction and transmission of Islamic discursive traditions published mainly in American Anthropology since the 1970s and 1980s. I contend that such literature suggests a theoretical starting point for "Muslim studies" which allows for the configuring power of social structure and the efficacy of history/tradition as Muslim habitus, as well as the contextual improvisations of human agents with diverse social positions and cultural capitals. Ultimately, my argument is that although this concern for structure, tradition and agency can be combined and emphasised in different ways, attentiveness to both similarity and difference, continuity and change, suggests one way forward beyond the essence/silence impasse in Orientalist/anti-Orientalist thinking about Muslim cultures and societies. (Contains 30 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom