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Muslim Cosmopolitanism or Heresy? Lessons for the Aftermath of the 2011 Arab spring


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Speaker(s): Dr Carool Kersten
Chair: Dr Kristian Ulrichsen

Recorded on 6 February 2012 in 2.04, New Academic Building.

In the course of the last decade, dramatic political events involving Muslims across the world have put Islam under increased scrutiny. The focus of this attention is generally limited to the political aspects and often even further confined by constrictive views of Islamism narrowed down to its most extremist exponents. Much less attention is paid to the parallel development of more liberal and progressive alternative Islamic discourses; but the final decades of the twentieth-century has also seen the emergence of a Muslim intelligentsia exploring new and creative ways of engaging with the Islamic heritage. Their ideas appear to provide an alternative to both the hard secularism represented by either authoritarian or more benign regimes and the advocacy of an Islamic state. It appears that this third way resonates with the ambitions and expectations of those involved in the Arab uprisings of 2011.

In this presentation Carool Kersten discusses how three emblematic Muslim intellectuals from Algeria, Egypt and Indonesia give new relevance to religion in the post-secular and post-Islamist Muslim world of the 21st century. Following the lecture, his latest book 'Cosmopolitans and Heretics: New Muslim Intellectuals and the Study of Islam', nominated for the Asia Society's Bernard Schwartz Book Award as well as for the AAR Prize for Best First Book in History of Religion, will be available for purchase and signing.

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