Michaelle L. Browers
Uncovers a rich and varied debate occurring in the world of Arab intellectuals about the meaning and function of a civil society in democratic political theory.
"Challenges and demolishes a widespread misconception: that all Arab (and Muslim) thought is basically fundamentalist and completely ignorant of such notions as democracy and civil society. . . . [Browers] demonstrates that Arab discussions of these issues exhibit a great degree of subtlety and sophistication. Readers will come away with a much calmer and more seasoned view of Arab and Muslim politics and culture."
—Fred Dallmayr, author of Beyond Orientalism: Essays on Cross-cultural Encounter
This book provides a significant and unique contribution to the emerging literature of comparative political thought. Michaelle L. Browers offers compelling evidence, with extensive analysis and references, that a rigorous debate is taking place in Arabic concerning the value of democracy and civil society.
Exploring the globalization of ideas of democracy and civil society, Browers addresses the question of what occurs when concepts cross the boundaries of cultures or languages. She analyzes the historical concept of democracy in Arab and Islamic political thought, the transformations that have occurred over the past several decades resulting from Arab forays into an international discussion of civil society and what these transformations tell us about the status of ideological and conceptual debates in the region.
The book’s value, however, lies in its main premise: despite the dearth of actual democratic practices in the Arab world, intellectual elites of the region have vigorously debated reform concepts for decades. Browers emphasizes that current conflicts involving the Middle East are less about Islam against the west and its secular allies in the region and more about diverse sectors of Arab society grappling with how to reform overreaching and unjust states. Browers shows that the seeds of democratic reform in the region were well planted prior to the war on Iraq and the Greater Middle East Initiative.
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Michaelle L. Browers is assistant professor of political science at Wake Forest University.
6 x 9, 296 pages, glossary, bibliography, index