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Islam, politics focus of college symposium

The 2007 Nicholas R. Clifford Symposium, titled Islam and Politics in a Globalizing World, will take place at Middlebury College on Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 4-6.

The symposium will feature prominent scholars of Islam and politics; events include a lecture, panel discussions, a dance performance and a film. Speakers will address several key issues and discuss the implications for the future of political Islam in an increasingly interconnected world. All events are free and open to the public.

Oxford University professor and Islamic studies scholar James Piscatori will deliver the symposiums keynote lecture titled Iraq and the Future of Political Islam on Thursday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m.

Piscatoris most recent book, Monarchies and Nations: Globalization and Identity in the Arab States of the Gulf (2005), is an interdisciplinary approach to the issue of identity in the Arab Gulf States, in which the transnational flows of wealth and the large migrant worker community play a part.

The Middlebury College Islamic Society members will initiate the panel discussions on Thursday, Oct. 4, at 4:30 p.m., with a roundtable on the religious experience of Muslims, titled What it Means to be a Muslim. They will be joined by Mahmoud Hayat, former president of the Islamic Society of Vermont.

On Friday afternoon, Oct. 5, at 4 p.m., Yale University Assistant Professor of Political Science Andrew March and Cornell University Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Politics David Patel will join Piscatori on a panel addressing the question, Why Does Islam Become Politicized?

March is a scholar of Islamic ethics and his dissertation, Islamic Doctrines of Citizenship in Liberal Democracies, won the 2006 Aaron Wildavsky Award for Best Dissertation in Religion and Politics from the American Political Science Association His dissertation will be published in book form by Oxford University Press in 2008.

The final panel on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 10:30 a.m., will discuss Islam, Human Rights and Democracy. Participants include Amr Hamzawy, senior associate of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Princeton University instructor in Near Eastern Studies Mirjam Knkler; and Naz Modirzadeh, a senior associate at the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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