2009 Carnegie Scholars Announced

Country’s Discourse on Islam Enriched by 117 Scholars Since Program’s Start  

Projects range from an examination of Thomas Jefferson’s views on Islam, and the formulation of post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy to the rise of Muslim representation in Western parliaments, and a history of U.S.–Iran relations stretching back to the American colonies.      

New York, New York, April 14, 2009 - Carnegie Corporation of New York President Vartan Gregorian today named 24 new Carnegie Scholars.  The new Scholars were selected for their compelling ideas and commitment to enriching the quality of the public dialogue on Islam. Today’s New York Times features an advertisement on the paper’s op-ed page recognizing the new Carnegie Scholars.      

Carnegie Corporation provides funding, with two-year grants of up to $100,000, to support well-established and promising young thinkers, analysts and writers. The 2009 awardees are the fifth class to focus on Islam, bringing to 117 the number of Carnegie Scholars devoted to the topic.     

Commenting on the 2009 Carnegie Scholars and the program's focus on Islam, Gregorian said, "We are cultivating a diverse scholarly community spanning a range of disciplines with the expectation that their voices will help Americans develop a more complex understanding of Muslim societies here and throughout the world--revealing Islam's rich diversity. Only through vibrant dialogue, guided by bold and nuanced scholarship, can we move public thinking into new territory."    

The 2009 Carnegie Scholars are drawn from a number of disciplines and represent public (6) and private institutions (17) ranging from liberal arts colleges to traditional research universities, and one independent scholar.

This year’s awardees include:    

  • An art historian offering a nuanced understanding of the role of contemporary mosques in the construction of modern Muslim identity.
  • A historian tracing the little known story of how Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers opposed dominant, negative views of Islam.    
  • A diplomat analyzing the formulation of U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.    
  • A Medievalist revealing a virtually unknown history of the Crusades in which thousands of Muslim and Christian soldiers were traded to serve in kingdoms of the other faith.    
  • An economist exploring how pilgrims, following their return from Mecca, have an increased desire for peace and tolerance—toward fellow Muslims and non-Muslims. 
  • A political scientist examining the dynamics of Muslim representation in North American and West European parliaments.    
  • A political scientist analyzing the impacts, in their respective countries, of Islamist groups in electoral politics.     
  • A historian offering a comprehensive account of U.S.-Iran relations beginning during the time of the American colonies.    

The Carnegie Scholars program was established by Vartan Gregorian to revitalize individual scholarship by supporting men and women to address some of the most critical research questions of our time.  The program allows independent-minded thinkers to pursue original projects oriented toward catalyzing intellectual discourse as well as guiding more focused and pragmatic policy discussions.    

Scholars are selected not only for their originality and proven intellectual capacity, but for their demonstrated ability to communicate their ideas in ways that can catalyze public discourse.  By identifying and investing in some of the brightest and most innovative contemporary thinkers, the foundation seeks to inform its own programs as well as to advance and diffuse knowledge that will uplift our nation and humanity.  Since 2005, the program has supported scholars whose work seeks to promote American understanding of Islam as a religion, the characteristics of Muslim societies, in general, and those of American Muslim communities, in particular.    

Patricia L. Rosenfield, who leads the Carnegie Scholars Program said, "America's discourse on Islam will benefit from the Scholars' enthusiastic quest to transform complex information into useful, structured knowledge. Their superb scholarship is often daring, always accessible and truly public."  Rosenfield said that emerging and established scholars alike are encouraged to orient their writing and speaking beyond purely academic audiences.    

Financial support for emerging scholars--those who are refining their voices and building their bodies of work--is especially important as it helps validate credibility and serves as an investment that yields considerable benefits later to the scholarly community.    

Nominations are invited from more than 500 nominators representing a broad range of disciplines and institutions, including academia, research institutes, non profit organizations, the media and foundations.  Nominators are asked to identify original thinkers who have the ability—or promise—to spark academic and public debate, and whose work transcends academic boundaries.    

A detailed project proposal and multi-step review process, utilizing Carnegie Corporation officers and external reviewers, identifies as finalists those nominees who offer a combination of original scholarship, past accomplishments, potential for impact on the field and capacity to communicate to the broader public and policymakers. 2009 Carnegie Scholars (in alphabetical order)    



Emory University School of Law  

Atlanta, Georgia  

Title: Enhancing Citizenship: American Muslims and American Secularism  

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, a legal scholar, will investigate the theoretical and practical underpinnings of American secularism as the basis for encouraging American Muslims to participate more actively in civic life.  He will present this as a framework for addressing issues of concern to American Muslims including education, family relations, foreign policy and social and economic advancement.  To build a case for this deeper engagement and to demonstrate that Muslims are equal partners in the negotiation and adaptation of American secularism, An-Na’im will clarify how secularism ensures respect and protection of Muslims’ fundamental rights.  He will explore these dimensions with American Muslim leaders and activists, civil society organizations, scholars, the media and the broader public. An-Na’im will be preparing scholarly background papers, holding workshops and discussion groups, conducting interviews and engaging in outreach via his project website and blog.  The resulting book, along with the outreach activities, have the potential to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together in common recognition of their  shared American values, as well as building mutual respect for their differences.    



George Washington University  

Washington, DC  

Title: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics  

Brown, a political scientist, will analyze the impacts of increased participation by Islamist groups in electoral politics on both the movements themselves and the political systems in which they operate.  Recognizing that Islamist movements and authoritarian rule are both deeply entrenched in the Arab world, Brown will not ask how these movements could operate if circumstances were different and democratic rules faithfully observed.  Instead, his comparative work will probe inside the movements focusing on why they enter politics in such an unfriendly environment, how they do so and how it affects them as well as the societies in which they operate.  In the resulting book and articles, Brown seeks to develop a nuanced understanding of the significance of these groups and their likely impact on the future of the Middle East.  Brown also intends to share the findings with scholars and activists in the region.    



Columbia University  

New York, New York  

Title: Islam and Military Rule  

Bulliet, a historian, will explore the historic and contemporary relationships between Islam and the military institutions that play a leading role in so many Muslim societies today.  To gain deeper insight into the current situation, he will examine the historical model of the mamluks, non-free warriors who came from outside mainstream society and ascended to the highest positions of power.  He hypothesizes that modern authoritarian regimes are neo-mamluk in character. Though often comprised of devout Muslims, they perceive Islamic political movements as mortal threats to their power.  Bulliet believes that the instability, violence and oppression common in many Muslim countries is rooted in the historical Muslim religio-political discourse, not in a confrontation with modernity and the West.  The Columbia University historian will compare the cases of Egypt, Syria and Turkey with Iran to delineate the nature of this confrontation and illuminate its historical evolution in order to diminish its dangers, and more positively, lead to greater political participation of civilian populations.    


Assistant Professor  

Stanford University  

Stanford, California  

Title: Muslims without Borders: Empires, States and Transborder Communities from the Caucasus to the Hindu Kush    

Historian Robert Crews’s project seeks to understand how the mobility and interconnectedness of Muslims have intersected with the politics of empires, states, nations, and locales.  His research challenges predominant American frameworks for understanding Muslim identities of an undifferentiated “Muslim world” on one hand, and the nation-state on the other hand.  Crews will explore how Muslim networks have been entangled since the early 18th century with struggles over state consolidation, the construction of borders, the politics of citizenship, control over resources, and great power hegemony.  Emerging from his work—which will investigate flows and exchanges across state borders and regions of merchants, scholars, pilgrims, information, and commodities—will be an alternative geography for understanding how these flows have connected the experiences of Muslims across time and place from the deep past to the present. Crews’ book will be written to reach a broad audience, with special appeal for undergraduate students.      



Dartmouth College  

Hanover, New Hampshire  

Title: Mainstreaming Islam: Taking Charge of the Faith    

Eickelman, an anthropologist, will explore the impact educated Muslims are having on rethinking Islamic thought and practice. He argues that profound transformations in the Muslim world today are occurring through the actions of middle class professionals and religious intellectuals. This process of “mainstreaming”—which includes tolerance of other faiths and accommodation of alternative Muslim religious ideas and practices—presents Islam as a part of civic life requiring concrete skills and aptitudes.  Through a better understanding of these skills using fieldwork and his past research in Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, Eickelman’s work will present a more complex analysis of those reformers who are rethinking religion outside of traditional boundaries, or are shaping new social movements.  Through his resulting book and participation in related activities, Eickelman will reach a wide audience of the public and policy makers interested in and shaping Muslim world developments.      


Assistant Professor  

Barnard College  

New York, New York  

Title: Petition and Protest in Authoritarian Egypt    

El-Ghobashy, a political scientist, will explore how ordinary citizens represent their interests, secure public services, and defend their rights while living under an unaccountable authoritarian regime.  She argues that citizens of multiple religions use court petitions and street protests to demand that government restore essential services and protect religious rights. El-Ghobashy aims to reconceptualize citizen mobilization not as “resistance” to the state but as a bottom-up attempt to hold public officials accountable.  The resulting book will contribute to the understanding of Islam in the modern world by demonstrating how Islam and other religions are mobilized by citizens with no access to free and fair elections or other means to represent their interests.      


Assistant Professor  

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor  

Ann Arbor, Michigan  

Title: Medieval Violence and Modern Tolerance    

Hussein Anwar Fancy, a medieval historian, will offer a novel perspective on religious violence in the Middle Ages that challenges and redirects contemporary debates about tolerance.  His research will center on a virtually unknown history of the Crusades in which thousands of Muslim and Christian soldiers were traded to serve in kingdoms of the other faith: Christian soldiers in service of North African sultans and Muslim soldiers in service of Catalan kings.  These curious exchanges paradoxically reinforced religious violence, rather than acting to diminish them.  Fancy argues that the language of tolerance, grounded in assumptions about medieval religion, has impeded both the understanding of the historical past and the mitigation of conflict.  His work will examine unpublished archival material from the 13th century in an effort to bring to light rules and limits to the use of violence in the context of the Crusades and jihad across the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa.  In the resulting articles and books, aimed at audiences in the United States and abroad, the University of Michigan historian will offer a revised understanding of violence and religion in order to re-focus debates on values such as justice and equality, notions that have long been obscured by the language of tolerance and intolerance.    


Senior Fellow, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing

  University of Pennsylvania  

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania    

Title: Children of the Revolution: Iran and America from the Mayflower to the Mullahs    

John Ghazvinian, a historian, will write the full story of America’s relationship with Iran.  Unlike most historical accounts, Ghazvinian’s will not begin with an examination of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, nor will he start with the CIA-backed coup in 1953.  Instead, he will begin his narrative in the early 1600s, when English ships set sail for Hormuz and Roanoke.  By moving beyond headlines and placing U.S.-Iran relations in a much broader timeframe, Ghazvinian will argue that, paradoxically, Iran is in many ways America’s most natural ally in the Middle East.  His research will draw on archival material in the U.S. and Iran including periodicals, newspapers, and other primary data sources.   As the United States enters into a new and possibly decisive relationship with Iran, the book resulting from Ghazvinian’s research will aim to  answer a perplexing yet fundamental question about U.S.-Iran relations, which only sporadically enters the public discourse, that is: How exactly did we get here?      



Georgetown University  

Washington, DC  

Title: Sayyid Qutb: From Village Boy to Islamist Martyr    

Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, a historian of religion, will analyze the impact of Western theological and political discourse on Islamic thought and Muslims through a re-examination of the life and works of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian whose writings represent the most radical interpretation of Islam.  Qutb, whose thinking has influenced revolutionary and terrorist movements, underwent a transformation from a liberal to neo-conservative revolutionary during and following his stay in the Untied States from 1949-1951.  While much has been written about this transformation, Haddad will situate it in the context of American educational philosophy prominent at the time and Qutb’s exposure to American religiosity.  She will expand the analysis by placing Qutb’s work within the intellectual and religious context of Egypt in the 1930s as well as his exposure to various influential Western writings. With Qutb’s transformation as context, Haddad will provide insight into the influence of contemporary Western ideas on Muslim youth in the West, thus offering a more nuanced understanding of the impact of American values on American Muslim youth as they cope with racism and alienation.      


Associate Professor  

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  

Champaign, Illinois    

Title: Islamic Sectarianism Reconsidered: Ibadi Islam in the Modern Age    

Religion scholar Valerie Hoffman will explore the impact of globalization on Ibadism, a neglected strand of Islam that is distinct from the Shi’a and Sunni denominations.  Hoffman will examine how Ibadism, which exists mainly in Oman and isolated pockets in the Maghreb and East Africa, challenges conventional academia’s mutually exclusive categories.  In a seeming contradiction, the fundamentalist sect embraces rational theology, mystical practice and liberal tolerance toward outsiders.  Hoffman’s exploration of Ibadism’s responses to globalization will shed light on the potential for a rigid, closed sect to embrace the diversity of the global age. The resulting book will fill a significant gap in the field and enhance both academic and public understanding of the distinctive nature of modern Ibadism.      


Associate Professor  

John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts    

Title: The Hajj: Islam’s Global Gathering    

Economist Asim Khwaja’s project will examine how the pilgrimage to Mecca affects individual pilgrims’ economic, social, ethical and cultural outlooks.  His preliminary work, based on data from a survey of 1600 Pakistani pilgrims, or Hajjis, suggests that they are more religious as a result of their pilgrimage.  Yet the same data reveals that pilgrims also return with an increased desire for peace and tolerance—both towards fellow Muslims and non-Muslims.  Given the increasing global concern about intolerance and religiously-motivated violence, Khwaja’s research on the impact of the Hajj will offer a unique perspective on social interaction among Muslims.  In what some observers may consider a departure from accepted knowledge, Khwaja will examine how mixing across the lines of ethnicity, nationality, sect and gender may result in deeper feelings of equality and harmony even towards outsiders.  By combining survey data with in-depth interviews of Hajjis, Khwaja intends to produce a monograph and articles aimed at policy and academic audiences that will enrich and deepen the current debate about Islam from the perspective of religion and tolerance.      



Rice University  

Houston, Texas    

Title: A Mutual Concern: A History of U.S. – Arab Relations    

Historian Ussama Makdisi’s project will reshape the understanding of U.S. Arab relations during the 19th and early 20th century.  Makdisi’s account will challenge most histories written about American-Arab relations, which focus primarily on oil, the Cold War, the Arab-Israeli conflict and, more recently, terrorism and Iraq.  These conventional histories often ignore an earlier American cultural involvement with the Arab world, an involvement marked by missionary encounters with the Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire beginning in the 1820s, major American-led higher education efforts in the 1860s, and Arab nationalists’ embrace of Wilsonian self-determination in 1919.  Ussama Makdisi’s book-length history will go beyond ideological assumptions about Americans and Arabs to tell a story of mutual interaction and transformation that has clear ramifications for contemporary dialogue between Americans and much of the Arab world.      


Assistant Professor  

John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts    

Title: Islamist Parties and Elections in the Middle East    

Tarek Masoud, a political scientist, aims to explain why political parties that demand the application of the Islamic holy law have emerged as the principal opponents of the authoritarian regimes that dominate the Middle East. The conventional wisdom holds that Islamists win elections because Muslims are somehow inherently receptive to political appeals that harness the rhetorical power of the faith. But the assistant professor of public policy suggests that we should instead focus on the electoral terrain in which Islamic parties and their opponents must operate. He contends that Islamists score electoral victories not because of their broad appeal, but rather due to adaptive advantages that render them particularly suited to elections held under authoritarian conditions. At a time when efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East have stalled on fears of Islamist takeover, Masoud’s research--drawing on cases in Egypt,  Jordan, Morocco, and Yemen--will examine whether those fears may be unfounded. He intends to produce a book that is both scholarly and accessible to a broad readership, and will disseminate his findings here and to Arabic-speaking audiences in the Middle East.      


Assistant Professor  

University of Wisconsin Law School  

Madison, Wisconsin    

Title: Lost in Non-translation: What’s Missing When We Say Shari’a  

Legal scholar and activist Asifa Quraishi’s work aims to explore how a more complex and careful understanding of shari’a may lead to workable compromises between Islamic law and international rights norms, thereby changing the current paradigm of often irreconcilable absolutes.  Quraishi argues that the concept has become dangerously politicized in recent years, as questions arise as to how a devotion to Islamic law can exist in harmony with more secular principles of human rights.  By offering a comprehensive framing for shari’a—one which acknowledges that it is composed of two interdependent realms of law, divine revelation and public good—she seeks to cultivate a workable consensus around this new framing.  Through her publishing and via discussions with scholars and the public in the United States and Muslim audiences around the world, Quraishi aims to alter the global debate about shari’a so that it is more informed and nuanced.      


Princeton University  

Princeton, NJ    

Title: Islamic Law and Legal Change: The Internal Critique    

Intisar Rabb, a legal scholar trained in Islamic and U.S. law, will examine Muslim juristic debates about modern legislation and implementation of classical Islamic criminal law.  Her work will focus on these distinctly “internal” critiques—balancing them, and those who present them, against critical assessments of Islamic law offered by human rights activists who argue with respect to international legal norms.  To better inform such critiques, Rabb will survey criminal law practices—not all of which are “Islamic”—in the 27 countries that have incorporated Islamic law into their constitutions or allow for a jurisdiction of Islamic criminal law.  Rabb’s survey findings will populate a public, online database aimed at legal and other scholars, nongovernmental organizations and government policymakers.  She will also conduct a comparative study of judicial debates in Iran and Saudi Arabia, with reference to Pakistan.  These are countries with constitutional legal systems drawing on Islamic law as the main source of law, and legal and governmental actors in each have turned increased attention to their criminal law regimes in recent years.  The legal scholar’s resulting book is intended for use by international lawyers, scholars, the media and the public.      


Assistant Professor  

New York University School of Law  

New York, New York    

Title: Understanding How the U.S. Government Understands Islam

Samuel Rascoff, a specialist in national security law and counterterrorism, will focus on how the U.S. government acquires knowledge and sets policy in the area of Islamic thought and practice.  The government’s concept of Islam, which the New York University professor refers to as “official Islam,” is enormously consequential.  Unlike strictly academic accounts, official Islam reverberates throughout society as a function of the policies to which it gives rise.    His exmination of official Islam will draw on comparisons with the Sovietology of a previous generation, as well as with current policies in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.  Through the resulting monograph, articles and talks, Rascoff aims to disseminate his findings to a wide audience of academics and policymakers as well as to members of the military, law enforcement and intelligence communities. He intends to offer recommendations on how the U.S. approach to acquiring and analyzing information on Islam might be improved.      


Assistant Professor  

Yale University  

New Haven, Connecticut    

Title: Ideology and Architecture: Transnational Mosques in the Middle East    

Art historian Kishwar Rizvi’s project will offer a nuanced study of the role of contemporary mosques in the construction of modern Muslim identity by examining their political, religious and architectural history.  The mosque reflects the choice of architect, institutional patronage, and religious networks, and as Rizvi contends, is an important lens though which to understand the ways in which Islamic culture defines itself.  However unique and specific a mosque’s symbolic meanings and formal relationships are to the local Muslim context, they are conceptually and, sometimes architecturally, related to religious buildings throughout the world.  Through  examination of the architectural networks emanating from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Rizvi will focus on mosques’ underlying connections—sometimes harmonious but sometimes in conflict—within the modern Muslim world in particular, but also the world at large. Rizvi will collect primary documentary evidence and conduct interviews.  Her findings will result in a book that fills a significant gap in the historical study of architecture and religious ideology in the contemporary Middle East. She will also disseminate her work through a website of photographic and architectural documents for practitioners, students and scholars in the Middle East and the United States.      



Columbia University  

New York, New York    

Title: The Encounter between Modern European Science and Islamic Societies    

George Saliba’s project explores the conundrum of why science in the Islamic world, after contributing to the rejuvenation of science in Europe during the Renaissance and subsequently giving rise to modern science, did not continue to flourish in modern times?  The Columbia University historian’s research into the emergence of modern science in Europe—and its failure to catalyze similar developments in the Islamic world—will focus on the effects of established legal monopolistic systems like patents and grants which tied science directly to investment and eventually a source of capital production.  Saliba will also analyze the impact of science-promotion institutions as well as scientific competitions, which balanced the mercantile nature of science with that of developing new knowledge.  Saliba’s findings will be drawn together in a monograph aimed not only at historians of science but also at science decision makers in governments, investors and the general public. His findings will be shared in articles, opinion pieces and the popular media.      


Assistant Professor  

Georgetown University  

Washington, DC    

Title: Islamist Electoral and Parliamentary Participation: Egypt, Morocco and Kuwait    

Samer Shehata, a specialist in Arab politics, will examine why Islamists parties participate in elections in semi-authoritarian regimes, the reasons behind their electoral success, as well as the particular policies they adopt once they enter parliament. Through ethnography, interviewing and close analysis of official records, the Georgetown University professor will also illustrate the degree to which participation in electoral politics has an effect on the character of legislative institutions in these regimes.  What will be the consequences, asks Shehata, of Islamist electoral and parliamentary activity on Middle East politics?  The resulting monograph will contribute to the fields of regional studies and political science, and Shehata’s work will also help inform United States’ foreign policy in the region.      


Assistant Professor  

Indiana University, Bloomington  

Bloomington, Indiana    

Title: Muslims in Western Parliaments    

Abdulkader Sinno, a political scientist, will examine the dynamics of Muslim representation in North American and West European parliaments; a phenomenon that current social and demographic trends suggest will become more important over the next 20-30 years.  His research sets forth a series of questions including the nature of political platforms adopted by elected Muslims, their support of assimilation—or protection of their minority identities—and their roles in civil rights debates.  These and other questions will illustrate how—and if – Muslim representatives in Western parliaments are different cross-nationally and from their non-Muslim counterparts.  Sinno’s work could play a constructive role in conflict resolution and preemption.  And, by bolstering the rights of Western Muslim minorities, his work may contribute to greater stability of the Western liberal democracies in which they reside.  In addition to a book, Sinno will write articles for academic journals as well as more accessible pieces for informing policy debates.      


Associate Professor  

University of Texas at Austin  

Austin, Texas    

Title: Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders    


Historian Denise Spellberg’s project will reveal the little known story of how Thomas Jefferson and several other ‘founding fathers’, including George Washington and Richard Henry Lee, opposed dominant negative views of Islam as a threat to the ideals underlying the new state they envisioned. Her work will bring to light how the rights of Muslims were part of broader national debates about religious freedom and the separation of church and state. The rights of Muslims in early America were then debated only in theory; today, they are tested daily in practice. Spellberg intends for her research - drawing on American political, religious and legal history - to recast/reframe the current discussion of the relationship of American democracy, tolerance, rights and pluralism to include Muslim communities.  The University of Texas historian hopes that the book project will challenge false dichotomies about Islam in America as un–American.  And instead, lead to wide understanding that the rights of Muslim citizens were at the heart of our founding history and part of our most cherished founding American ideals.      


Independent Scholar  

Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania    

Title: Foreign Policy in an Age of Madness: America and the Muslim World after 9/11    

Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, an international relations specialist, served three Republican administrations in senior positions in the White House and State Department, including during the George W. Bush administration.  Combining an insider perspective with her foreign policy background and her scholarship on engagement with the Muslim world, Tahir-Kheli will analyze the formulation of U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  The U.S. government’s use, during this period, of democracy promotion as a means of undercutting support for terrorism has been widely discussed and critiqued.  However, most of this discussion has occurred in the absence of information about the tensions and issues that shaped the decision processes.  Tahir-Kheli will offer nuanced details drawing on interviews, documents and personal experiences to describe the terms by which these issues were debated within the administration.  In addition to examining the interplay between the war on terror and outreach to the Muslim world, Tahir-Kheli will assess America’s ability—via changes in its current and projected role—to influence international political development, including bridging the divide between government policy and the messages it conveys to the Muslim world.      



University of Michigan  

Ann Arbor, Michigan    

Title: Popular Conceptions and Preferences Relating to the Place of Islam in Political Life: Insights from Cross-National and Longitudinal Survey Research in the Arab World    

Drawing upon 22 representative national surveys conducted in eleven Arab countries since 2002, political scientist Mark Tessler will explore the preferences of ordinary Arab citizens relating to the place of Islam in political life, building on earlier work that suggests citizens in many Arab countries are not content with their relative lack of democracy. These surveys, designed and conducted with participation by scholars in the region, have yielded data on political attitudes and behaviors, including factors explaining why different individuals come to different conclusions about how their countries should be governed. These data fill a missing dimension in political science research in and about the Arab world.  Tessler will merge the data from the different surveys, build the conceptual measures, analyze the survey data, and disseminate his findings in a monograph and articles for use by scholars, the public and policymakers in the United States, the Arab world and elsewhere.   Along with the monograph, the merged data set will be placed in the public domain for use by others.      


Associate Professor  

University of Chicago   Chicago, Illinois    

Title: Sacred Politics: The Contemporary Arab State, Secularity and Islam     

Malika Zeghal, a social scientist, is challenging the conventional interpretation of secularity as a Western phenomenon—one that is closely associated with democratic practices- in a comparative analysis of the role of Islam in Middle Eastern modern authoritarian states and in France’s secular democracy.  Through in-depth examination of Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Tunisia, and their relationship to Islam, she will also shed new light on the emergence of Islamist movements in these countries.  The University of Chicago professor’s work will explore the important affinities between Islamist political movements and Muslim theologians, or ulama.  Across the Middle East both of these groups are advocating for Islam’s role as a political and ethical force in society.  In the project’s resulting publications, Zeghal will demonstrate to what extent Islamist movements are a byproduct of state theologies and state regulation of religion, an articulation that will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the use of religious concepts in protest against state power.