for the Fall 2007 issue on SECULARISM AND SECTARIANISM
Sectarian difference and secularism are once again popular prisms through which to view the Arab world and the Middle East. Western media sources portray civil strife from Iraq to Lebanon to Yemen as exclusively communal in nature. Popular and academic knowledge production describes the deep geopolitical trends in the Middle East through the use of unexamined and oversimplified religious terms. On the epistemological level, the ongoing salience of religion and sect is the latest reason for categorizing the Middle East as “exceptional”; on the political level, it is an excuse for labeling regional conflicts as timeless, immutable, and, therefore, impossible to resolve. Historical contingency is erased or forgotten, as is the existence of alternative, secular visions for community and polity. At the same time, the rise of Islamism in mass-based popular politics is dismissed as retrograde and anti-democratic, and it is taken for granted that secularism is the only legitimate mode of political practice. But an understanding of the political and historical contexts of the current shifts of state and popular power in the Middle East proves the necessity of reexamining prior understandings of both sectarianism and secularism.
For this special issue, the Arab Studies Journal calls for papers that critically assess secularism and sectarianism in the Middle East. We seek historical inquiries into the construction of communal identities and modes of organization, including studies of how colonial and nationalist regimes, officials, and constructs have employed sectarianism and secularism to forge social and political legitimacy. We are particularly interested in cross-regional and comparative approaches that consider the interplay of sect and secularism outside of the Middle East.
The Arab Studies Journal is a peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary research publication. Papers will be evaluated on their scholarly probity and not on their theses. Article manuscripts should be 25 to 40 double-spaced type written pages, including endnotes. The Journal conforms to the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition.
SUBMIT ONLINE AT WWW.ARABSTUDIESJOURNAL.ORG
DEADLINE 15 AUGUST 2007
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