Comparative Muslim Societies in Asia

Course Number: ASAN 411
Course Title: Comparative Muslim Societies in Asia
Course Description:This course takes a comparative, topical approach to the study of modern Islamic societies in Asia. Though Asia is home to over half of the world’s Muslims, Asian Muslim societies have often been thought of as peripheral to a Middle Eastern “core” of the Islamic world. While this course focuses on South, East, and Southeast Asia, it aims to challenge this center-periphery model through attention to the historical spread of Islam and the development of Muslim networks connecting Asia and the Middle East, to the contemporary manifestations of these networks and their relations to local practice, and to local, lived experiences of life in varied Muslim societies in Asia.

We draw on literature from anthropology, history, religious studies, and area studies to analyze Muslim societies in relation to each other, discovering commonalities and differences and understanding the processes by which these have developed. We also critically examine how the comparative method has been used in studies of Islam across disciplines. Throughout the course, we address key issues including colonialism, Orientalism, cosmopolitanism, Islam and the nation-state, education, gender, violence, popular culture, and everyday lives of Muslims in Asia.
Learning Objectives:

  • Explain key aspects of how Islam has developed in Asian societies, and compare societies with each other

  • Critically evaluate the ways comparison is used in studying Islam, Asia, and their roles in global interactions

  • Understand and be able to compare and critically evaluate the theoretical and methodological perspectives used in studying Asian Islamic societies in various academic disciplines

  • Articulate their perspectives on issues raised by both readings and current events in a manner that is at once critical, informed, and respectful of others, in class discussions and in written work

  • Facilitate class discussions of course material

  • Write clear, concise academic essays that make and support an argument and use proper documentation of sources

  • Give an in-depth, well-researched, and theoretically sophisticated account of one specific or localized aspect of Islam/Muslim life in an Asian context, based on independent research, in a persuasive oral presentation with accompanying slides