Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

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IPOL 8689


The ‘Politics and Islam in Russia’ seminar is designed for those interested in the causes and resolution of violent conflict, separatist insurgencies, terrorism, non-proliferation, and comparative Islamic politics. It offers students an in-depth introduction to the role played by Islam and the ‘forgotten Muslims’ of Russia. in both domestic, regional, and international politics. Through the careful reading of primary and secondary sources, the seminar’s central purpose is to engage students in a detailed comparative examination of the historical, geographic, ethnic, theological, institutional, and global factors that shape identity politics and frame other political issues for Russia’s Muslims. The course’s core focus is the politics of Islam and Muslims and the rise of contemporary Islamism and jihadism in Russia. Under these, major foci include: the complex history of the ambivalent relationship between the Russian Tsarist state and society, on the one hand, and Eurasia’s Muslims, on the other; the dramatic fate of Muslims under Soviet rule; the role of Muslims and Islam during the Soviet demise and the varied post-Soviet transformations; the competing explanations for the recent rise of jihadi terrorism in Russia and other parts of Eurasia; and the implications of jihadist terrorism in the region for the challenges of conflict resolution, non-proliferation, and global jihadi terrorism. In particular, we look closely at the peculiarities of ethnicity, national identity, and confession of Russia’s numerous Muslim ethnic groups, their relations both with each other, the states and the larger Russian society, and the rise of Islamism and jihadism in Russia in comparative perspective. By looking at these phenomena through the prism of nationalism theory, comparative nationalism, and comparative Islamism, the course focuses on the formation and consolidation of national identity, the politicization of such identity, and the transformation of ethno-nationalism into pan-Islamic, political Islamic, Islamist, and jihadist trends and movements. The seminar reviews socioeconomic, demographic, ideological, theological, and political trends in Russia, paying particular attention to the role of regime type, economic development, and the relative role of Islam as factors shaping the state, society, state-society relations, and Muslim-state relations. It also analyzes competing explanations of the causes of the Russo-Chechen conflict, Moscow’s ongoing accommodation with Tatarstan and the other constituent Muslim and national republics of the federation, and the rise of jihadism and terrorism. A broad set of ideological influences and trends affecting Russia’s Muslims are examined, including reformist jadidism, syncretic Eurasianism, and reactionary Islamist jihadism, among others. We also discuss cases of, and potential scenarios involving the use and proliferation of WMD materials and weapons by Central Asian jihadi terrorists. Finally, we look at the influence of Islam and Muslims on Russia’s foreign and national security policies and international security.
International Policy
International Policy
Intl Policy & Management
Requirements Fulfilled: