Marxism and Islam Stream – Marxism and the Political Economy of Islam

Ever since the passing of a generation of great Orientalists, particularly from France, such as Berque, Cahen and Rodinson, whose works had been profoundly informed by Marxism or the radical traditions affiliated to it, and the prolific discussions and analyses in the 1960s and 1970s of different Islamic political economies, past and present, in a range from the debates on Asiatic mode of production to those on the nature of colonialism and imperialism, the project of understanding Islam and the Islamicate world it entails by historical materialism had largely been aborted. Yet, parallel to the closing of an era of cultural turn, now it might be the moment for a new proliferation of Marxist involvement in the field of Islamic studies. The achievements of the scholarship in this interval, especially in the field of Islamic history, would certainly have positive effects over such endeavours.

Though this moment generates new opportunities, it also brings forth new challenges. Islam as religion was usually conceptualised as an ‘ideology’—in the face of capitalist imperialism of the West, it represented a node of resistance, a constituent of the nascent anti-imperialist struggles; and following more or less the logic of modernisation theories, a component of national identities so as to be abandoned in time through secularisation, therefore a thing of the past. However, the course of so-called Islamic revival proved this was not the case. Although with the war on terror the US imperialism actually declared a war on radical Islamism all over the world, a good number of Islamist regimes, moderate or not, have not only managed to remain loyal to US imperialism, but also their cronies, along with the state-run economies they control, became more and more key players in the growing global competition. Islam is rather an integrated than isolated part of global capitalism, whereas Muslim communities of the West are the subject of a series of systemic discriminations and racism.

In HM Ankara Conference, we invite papers working in this vast field of Islamic studies for the ‘Marxism and Islam’ stream. Our aim is to go beyond the futile compatibility question—that is, ‘can Islam and Marxism be compatible?’—and to investigate the material basis of Islamic political economies—both historical and actual, both at community and state levels. Also, we invite those whose work deal with intra-Islamic conflicts incorporating not only the obvious religious tenets but the social, economic and political implications they entail. Broad topics include, but not limited to:

— Islam, ideology, and beyond;

— Origins of Islam, economy, and social formation;

— Rethinking the mainstream Islamic history (through the challenging work of both non-Marxist and Marxist historians, such as Crone or Banaji);

— Islam, capitalism, and development;

— Mode of production debates and the transition to capitalism in the light of historical work informed by Political Marxism and others;

— Rethinking Islam vis-à-vis colonialism and postcolonialism;

— Islam and the organisation of society;

— Critique of Islamic law and Islamic economy;

— Making sense of Islamic schism;

— Muslim Question in the West;

— Resonances between the Jewish Question and the Muslim Question;

— Class, gender, and racial dynamics of the Muslim Question in Europe and elsewhere;

— The Muslim Question, international politics, and global capitalism;

— Uses, misuses, and abuses of Islamophobia.

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