Marxism and Islam Stream

The remarkable presence of Islam in the 21st century calls for a new proliferation of Marxist involvement in the field of Islamic studies. The achievements of the scholarship in the interval between the era of classical Marxist studies on Islam and the end of the cultural turn would certainly have positive effects on such endeavours. At this moment of a renewed interest in materialist social sciences and historiography, both new opportunities and new challenges emerge.

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 the so-called Islamic revival proved this was not the case. Although US imperialism, with the war on terror, actually declared 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 integrated than an isolated part of global capitalism, whereas Muslim communities of the West are the subject of a series of systemic discriminations and racism. Moreover, it is important to emphasise that there are multiple Islamic experiences in today’s world. In the world of the early twenty-first century, on the one hand, ISIS calls for jihad, and the Taliban administration, now normalised and legitimised after a long war doomed to failure, does not allow girls to study and completely restricts daily life with serious consequences for women and LGBTQ+ communities; on the other hand, there are liberal Islamic perspectives, where Muslim feminist movements flourish. At the same time, neoliberal accumulation strategies experienced on a global scale caused the class distinctions within the Muslim world deepen further; as this distinction became more evident, the traces of class conflict came to light in everyday life practices due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At HM Istanbul 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 and all experiences—both historical and actual, both at community and state levels.

The stream aims to treat the subject through a set of broad, cross-disciplinary papers exploring the full range of intersections between Marxism and Islam. We invite paper proposals from all disciplines across the social sciences and humanities; all time periods, historical and contemporary alike; and all geographic and cultural contexts globally. Broad topics include, but are not limited to:

— Islam, ideology, and beyond;

— Origins of Islam, economy, and social formation;

— Rethinking the mainstream Islamic history;

— 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;

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

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

— Uses, misuses, and abuses of Islamophobia.

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