The Islamic World and the West: An Introduction to Political Cultures and International Relations

The Islamic World and the West: An Introduction to Political Cultures and International Relations

The Islamic World and the West: An Introduction to Political Cultures and International Relations

The Islamic World and the West: An Introduction to Political Cultures and International Relations

Synopsis

The anthology is an introduction to political cultures in the Islamic world and into relations between the West and Islam. It outlines similarities and differences in the understanding, perception and communication of basic politico-ideological issues like modernity democracy, human rights, violence, the emancipation of women, and economic development and social justice.

It details its analyses in country studies on relations between the USA and Europe on the one side and Algeria, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Bosnia, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Central Asia and Pakistan on the other side.

The book, which was first published in Germany, was deemed to be "a convincing reply to Huntington" (S]ddeutsche Zeitung). Mostly German scholars and scholars working in Germany present original insights into a complex matter that although at the heart of international and intercultural relations is often treated in simplistic ways.

Excerpt

The popularity of “Islam” as a topic in contemporary writing bears an inherent danger of overstating the point. Is it legitimate to discuss “the Islamic world” in its relationship to “the West”? How can one possibly subsume Central Asia and the Middle East under the common denominator “Islam” and thereby suggest an identity of political cultures in two quite distinct areas of the world? Contrary to first impressions, the title of this book does not imply that “Islam” as religion or culture is the most important factor in the political development of those countries in North Africa, the Near and Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia where a majority of the population is Muslim. “Islam” is merely one of the many appellations that could be used. The “Arab world, ” geocultural formations like “Europe, ” “the West” or “the Mediterranean” are of equal importance in attempting to analyse the areas in question. However, the best known and most frequently used term today in both academia and public opinion is “Islam, ” usually with an emphasis on so-called “Islamic fundamentalism.” It was with this in mind that the title of this volume was chosen. The term “Arab world, ” to take but one example, is legitimate, but it contributes little to our understanding of the political phenomenon usually referred to as “Islam.” The aim of this book is not to construct an Islamic political monolith as the antithesis to Western political cultures of democracy, human rights, the market economy and world peace, but to deconstruct many of the easy assumptions about the bipolarity of “Orient” and “Occident.”

This anthology is an introduction to political cultures and international relations, focusing on Islamist thought and Islamist movements. At the same time, the authors have endeavoured to present their cases in the wider political, social and cultural context of the Islamic world, where the Islamist element is just one factor of complex civil societies in confrontation with authoritarian regimes and hegemonic Western foreign policies. Analyses of Western mass media have revealed that the most moderate and liberal segments of political cultures in North Africa and the Near and Middle East are given little coverage, while radical forces gain disproportionate attention. Following its original publication in German in 1997, the present . . .

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