“What’s wrong with Muslim societies these days?” The violence and dysfunction that is plaguing most of the Muslim world fills our daily news channels, often leading to heated arguments about the spiritual content of Islam as a religion. Interesting as such discussions undoubtedly are, we will argue in this talk that to understand what went wrong we need to look beyond the Good Book. So, instead of studying spiritual dogma to understand contemporary Muslim societies, we explore here a different approach. Using normal social science, we will see that the current state of affairs quite literally wasn’t preordained, but resulted from people’s choices, often fairly poor ones. We will thus look here at the many false starts, the missed opportunities, the intellectual dead-ends, and the historical reversals that have produced the current violent and unstable situation. Reception following lecture.
Pembroke Hall, Room 305