Anthropology of Islam – Spring 2023

Participating Campuses: Host – University of Michigan | Receiving – University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Time: T, TH: 12:00-12:30pm CST, 10:00-11:30am EST

Course Numbers:

  • Michigan – 356-001
  • Maryland – MODL 391

This course is about how ordinary Muslims understand, practice, and relate to their religious tradition in their everyday lives. The class will examine ethnographies set in three countries – Egypt, Indonesia, and France – that illuminate in contrasting ways the intersections of lived Islam with contemporary issues, from bio-ethics and medical technologies to media and globalization to secularism and gendered citizenship.

As specific social worlds are explored, the course considers how “Islam” is a historically situated religion, is a theological, ethical, and legal tradition, and is an object of anthropological study. Throughout the course we will discuss terrorist groups like ISIS and both popular and academic debates around how to understand its use of violence. We will examine different kinds of media produced by or about Muslims that enhance our understanding of the assigned texts.

Course Promises:

  • You will be able to understand the major debates, theories, and methods in the
    anthropological study of Islam.
  • You will be able to analyze contemporary Muslim beliefs and practices in diverse
    cultural settings around the world.
  • You will be able to reflect upon and contextualize your own understanding of
    Islam as well as accounts of Islam in the media.
  • You will practice your writing and analytical skills.

About the Instructor:

Yasmin Moll, PhD, is an anthropologist of religion and media with a focus on the Middle East, as well as, a practicing visual ethnographer. She is interested in understanding the mass mediation of religious life and in approaching digital media as a mode of anthropological argument. More broadly, her research is informed by a conceptual attunement to religious difference and revolutionary politics in nonliberal traditions and within authoritarian contexts. 

Her upcoming book explores Islamic television channels as sites of critique before, during and after Egypt’s 2011 revolution. Her newest research revolves around two topics: a Henry Luce funded collaborative project with Emory University on the global politics of “moderate Islam” and a co-creative, multi-modal project on Nubian cultural activism and material heritage across Egypt and Sudan, funded by the Humanities Collaboratory.