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Comparing religious fundamentalisms in the 19th and 20th centuries


Value: two units


Dr. Markus Daechsel


Taught through weekly two-hour seminars and supervisions of dissertation through a series of 1-to-1 meetings


Taught unit: Oral Presentation (10%), Best Essay of two (10%), Assessed Gobbet Exercise (10%); and 3-hour Exam (70%); dissertation unit: 10,000-word dissertation (100%)

NB – Not to be taken in conjunction with HS2315 Modernizing Despots and Angry Mullahs: Development and Popular Resistance in the Muslim World, 1930-1980

Ever since the Islamic Revolution in Iran happened to coincide with the greater prominence of Christian nationalist rhetoric in Ronald Reagan's White House journalists, policy makers and academics have suggested that the end of the 'short' twentieth century brought about a global return of religious radicalism. This fashion receded to the background for a while in the 1990s, but in the aftermath of 9/11 has returned with a vengeance, leading to the publication of an avalanche of books about what is 'wrong' with public religion the world over. This course will discuss the utility of 'fundamentalism' as an analytical category as it seeks to explain a wide range of radical political cultures around the globe under one master category: from the new wave of Islamic terrorism to settler intransigence in and religious Zionism in Israel, from communal violence in India committed under the banner of a muscular Hinduism to the neo-Imperialist agenda of the Christian Right in the US. We will investigate the complex pasts of these movements and religious tendencies, which take us back to the 19th century and beyond, and attempt to sketch an ideological landscape of 'fundamentalists' by analyzing their own writings and pronouncements. The overall approach of this course is thematic and comparative, using the findings of this cross-religious and cross-regional survey and debate them in a more general and conceptual framework.


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