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Lecture to Discuss Arab World Revolutions

By Sarah Geegan


The revolutions throughout Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other nations in the Arab world have inspired earnest debate among experts. Are the ideological underpinnings of the revolutions democratic, religious, liberal or non-ideological? Will these revolutions spearhead an Islamist takeover of the Arab world? Professor Asef Bayat, of the University of Illinois, will address these questions Friday, March 23, in the William T. Young Library auditorium.

The UK College of Arts and Sciences and the Muslim World Working Group will present the symposium titled, "Understanding the Arab Spring." The event will include a lecture from Bayat, "The Arab Spring: Are the Islamists Coming?" as well as commentary from three UK professors.

Bayat is a professor of sociology and Middle East studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He taught sociology and Middle East studies at the American University in Cairo for 16 years and in 2003 joined Leiden University as director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), and the chair of Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East.

Bayat specializes in Middle East studies; social movements and non-movements; Islam and the modern world; urban space and politics; international development; and religion, politics and everyday life.

"UK is fortunate to have one of the foremost scholars and thinkers on the contemporary Middle East to share his views on the Arab Spring," said Ihsan Bagby, professor in the Department of Modern & Classical Languages and Literatures.

Bagby, along with Hsain Ilahiane, professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Diane King, professor in the Department of Anthropology, will comprise a panel of commentaries, following Bayat's lecture.

Bagby specializes in Islamic law and has spent the past 10 years researching Muslims in America. In March 2012 he published, "The American Mosque in 2011," which is based on his comprehensive study of mosques in America.

Ilahiane, an applied anthropologist, has conducted research in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically in Morocco, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa, focusing theoretically upon globalization; development and information; and communication technologies, and political ecology.

King is among the few anthropologists to do residential participation observation research in Kurdistan, the ethnic homeland of the Kurds encompassing parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Her main areas of interest include kinship, gender, the state, and migration.

"This symposium is the first event for the Muslim World Working Group, which is an interdisciplinary group of professors who have a research interest in the Muslim world," Bagby said. "A&S’s strong support for our new Muslim World Working Group and this symposium is a clear demonstration of UK’s commitment to raising the level of global understanding among students."

The symposium will take place at 3 p.m. March 23, in the William T. Young Library auditorium.