Beirut-based Architectural Firm Wins Design Competition for Engineering Complex at AUB  
Trustee Philip Khoury Named MIT Associate Provost  
AUB and UAE Center Sign Agreement to Offer EMBA Program to Emirate Institutions  
Fourth AUB Faculty Seminar on Teaching and Learning with Technology  
New Faculty: Hussein Shahidi  
New Faculty: Kirsten Scheid  
New Faculty: Tima al Jamil  
Office of Grants and Contracts Celebrates World Intellectual Property Day  
Staff Profile: Ghaleb Halimi  
Fifth Annual FEA Student Conference Held  
Engineering Alumni Recognized for Outstanding Achievements  
Studying Biodiversity in Lebanon and the Region at AUB  
Construction Update  
Renovated AUB Archaeological Museum Inaugurated  
Renovated Pediatrics Clinic Opened  
Women's Rights Club Holds Conference on Gender and Sexuality  
Tenth Annual AUB Job Fair Largest Since Its Inception  
Letters from a New Campus by Daniel Bliss  
Winners of the Coca-Cola 'Make Every Word Count' Essay Competition Announced  
AUBMC Research Group Awarded NIH Grant  
Science Students Reveal Bonds Between Chemistry and Art  
Understanding the Political Economy of Islamic Movements  
Extreme Makeover: AUB Graduate Transforms Gulf Television  
Science, Math, and Technology Fair Promotes Environmental Thinking  
School Fair 2006: Prospective AUB Students Visit Campus  
Situation of the Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon  
Remembering the Writer, Khalil Takieddine  
Promotions 2005-2006  
Piano Recital by Arnimée Choukassizian  
Lecture on Space Exploration by World Expert  
Teleconferencing Brings Students Together Across Continents  
"Something Is Happening": Fairuz and Ziad Al Rahbani  
Cultural Genocide and Assyrian Cultural Survival  
Lecture on the History and Origins of American Islamicism  
Business School and Arts and Sciences Team Wins Soccer Championship Match by Narrow Margin  
  Red Cross Club Celebrates its 26th Anniversary at AUB
  History of the American University of Beirut: A New CASAR Course
  First Stereo-photography Exhibit at AUB  
  Photo Exhibition by President John Waterbury  
  The Cats of Renée Deek: End-of-Year Theater Workshop Performance  
  Film on Euthanasia-A True Story  
  Part Two of the CVSP Forum  
  Out of Place: Memories of Edward Said  
  Mozart and Schumann Celebrated at Assembly Hall  
  Austrian Chamber Music Duo Performs at AUB  
  Mathematician Alain Connes Visits AUB  
  Rima Khcheich Concert Plays to Sold-out Crowds at Assembly Hall
  Women's Auxiliary  
  33rd Annual Folk Dance Festival Hosts 20 Performing Schools  
June 2006 Vol. 7 No. 8

Lecture on the History and Origins of American Islamicism

Professor Timothy Marr

Timothy Marr, a professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holder of a PhD from Yale University, gave a lecture on May 22 in West Hall about the thorny issue of islamicism in America. Hosted by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saoud Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR), Marr's talk, accompanied by slides, was entitled "The Cultural Roots of American Islamicism."

Marr argued that, rather than promote a better understanding of the religion of Islam or the interests of Muslims themselves, Americans have consistently mainstreamed orientalist images into domestic service as "a means to globalize the authority of the cultural power of the United States." He thus defined islamicism as a form of orientalism that consequently precludes a critical analysis of the diversity of Muslim peoples, the contingency of their cultures, and the complexities of their beliefs.

Marr then discussed the differences between two main kinds of islamicism: the romantic and the comparative. Drawing upon a panoply of stereotyped images, he showed how romantic islamicism painted Islamic lands in the American imagination as one of the world's most nefariously exotic places, populated by supposedly sensual and indulgent peoples, whose dissipation stood in stark contrast to the self-proclaimed virtue of the emerging American national identity. On the other hand, comparative islamicism, which started taking root with the decay of the Ottoman Empire, proved that Muslim societies, though politically weak, had been more successful in preventing many of the critical social problems American society was suffering from, problems like xenophobia, drunkenness, exploitation, and sectarianism. Marr cited honesty, hospitality, kindness to animals, temperance, sanctimonious cleanliness, and respect for the dead as aspects of Muslim and Turkish cultural behavior that first astonished Americans. He emphasized that as a result of comparative islamicism, Muslim and Turkish virtue became "an effective rhetorical means of highlighting the depths of American vice."

However, even comparative islamicism could not deter the traditional American view of the East, said Marr. He pointed out that even the worst vice in America's history, slavery, was still in practice in the States at the time it was outlawed by the Ottoman Empire in 1847. Marr concluded that a fuller understanding of the history and origins of American islamicism and its "complex, diverse, and abiding patterns of transcultural appropriation" is needed to provide the necessary perspective on contemporary dispositions toward Islam, which many Americans still view as the antithesis of their own beliefs and culture.