Synopses & Reviews
This book provokes a debate between social theory and Islamic studies. Drawing on theories of successive modernities, sociology of religion, and poststructuralist approaches to modern subjectivity formation, it introduces a novel analytical framework to the study of Middle Eastern societies. The authors explore ways in which Muslims have constructed meaningful modern selfhoods, providing their reader with unique insights into the ongoing social transformation of the Middle East. Making Islamic charities and youth organizations their primary site of investigation, they combine studies on Islamic reform with case studies on social activism in Egypt and Jordan. In criticizing theses about the alleged uniqueness of Western modernity, the book challenges exclusivist assumptions about both Western modernity and contemporary Islamic ways of life. In this way, it makes original contributions to conceptual discussions on modernity and our knowledge of modern Muslim societies.
"In this book, Dietrich Jung and his collaborators demonstrate theoretically and empirically how we are all 'moderns' in today's global world but modern in different ways. They do this concretely on the basis of historical analyses and contemporary research conducted among activists in social welfare and youth organizations in Jordan and Egypt. They demonstrate how modern transformations happened and are happening in these countries roughly in sequence with those that have been occurring in Western countries; how 'modernity' did not come to the West first and then, if at all, to other countries. Most significantly, their research demonstrates that Islam, in these instances, has been and still is a central element and resource in these transformations, a key part of becoming and being modern rather than simply a reactionary force harkening to a bygone era." - Peter Beyer, University of Ottawa, Canada
"Just when you thought you knew everything you needed to know about the history of modernity as a global and a Middle Eastern phenomenon, a new book comes along that employs the notions of successive and multiple modernities to invite you to rethink both and their connections to each other. If theory is not what you are looking for in a new book on Islamic modernities, then the empirical case studies of Jordan and Egypt that use the study of the Muslim subjectivities of men and women of different generations and classes to expand this new field will offer important rewards. This is an excellent book that is worthy of your attention and mine." - Mervat F. Hatem, Howard University, USA
"Politics of Modern Muslim Subjectivities is a breathtaking must-read for anybody interested in politics, religion, and society in the modern Middle East. The authors make a great and unmatched contribution to the literature on Islam's complex and fascinating embedding in the global order. Based on social theories of the modern, the book studies the relationship between politics and religion, the status of Muslim charity and youth organizations, and the individual modern subjectivities of young Muslims in Egypt and Jordan. It meets the highest standards of rigorous, theory-driven empirical research and provides an intellectually rich frame for understanding better both how modern Islam is coherently integrated into - rather than opposed to - the global modern and why such integration is yet anything but a homogenous or linear process." - Stephan Stetter, Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany
About the Author
Dietrich Jung is a Professor and Head of Department at the Center for Contemporary Middle East Studies, University of Southern Denmark. His recent publications include Religion, Politics, and Turkey's EU Accession (ed. with Catharina Raudvere, 2008) and Orientalists, Islamists and the Global Public Sphere: A Genealogy of the Modern Essentialist Image of Islam (2011).
Marie Juul Petersen is Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights. She holds a PhD from the Institute for Regional and Cross-Cultural Studies at University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her research interests include Islam, international organizations, human rights, development, and humanitarian aid. Her most recent book is For Humanity or for the Umma? Aid and Islam in International Muslim NGOs (2014).
Sara Cathrine Lei Sparre holds a PhD from University of Copenhagen, Demark. Her research interests include subjectivity formation, Islam and civil society, state, gender, and higher education. She has previously worked at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS).
Table of Contents
PART I: THEORETICAL AND ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK: UNDERSTANDING CONTEMPORARY ISLAM WITH THE HELP OF SOCIAL THEORY
1. Modernity, Successive Modernities, and the Formation of the Modern Subject
2. Modern Religion, Religious Organizations and Religious Social Action
3. Islamic Reform and the Construction of Modern Muslim Subjectivities
PART II: POLITICS OF MUSLIM SUBJECTIVITIES IN JORDAN
4. State and Islam in Jordan: The Contested Islamic Modern
5. Charity and Social Welfare Organizations in Jordan: Negotiating the Islamic Modern
6. Charity and Modern Forms of Muslim Subjectivities in Jordan
PART III: POLITICS OF MUSLIM SUBJECTIVITIES IN EGYPT
7. State and Islam in Egypt: Secular Authority Versus Islamic Modernities
8. New Youth Organizations in Egypt: Charity and the 'Muslim Professional'
9. Leaders, Organizers and Volunteers: Encountering Idiosyncratic Forms of Subjectivities