February 13: John O. Voll on Islam and Democracy for the 21st Century

In their 1996 book, Islam and Democracy, John Esposito and John Voll examined the
intersection of politics and religion in five Islamic countries. They pointed to the emergence
of pro-democracy movements in Islamic societies despite resistance from authoritarian
regimes, arguing that to understand the multiple political trajectories in these countries,
commonalities as well as historical differences among societies must be considered. The
events of the Arab Spring and other recent developments in the politics of Muslim majority
countries compel a re-examination. What were the new political solvents that accelerated
change? What are the implications of 21st-century developments for understanding the
relationship between Islam and democracy? Does the argument the authors advanced in
1996—that the term “democracy” can have multiple interpretations—remain relevant? John Voll explored these questions with members of the Washington History Center in a wide-ranging presentation on February 13.

Voll is Professor of Islamic History and Associate Director of the Prince Alwaleed
bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. He is the
author, co-author, or editor of a dozen books, including Asian Islam in the 21st Century, and
more than one hundred articles on Islamic and world history. He is a Past President of the
Middle East Studies Association.

A webcast of his presentation is available at Islam and Democracy for the 21st Century.

The seminar meets at 4 p.m. Mondays in the Moynihan Boardroom on the 6th floor of the Wilson Center, 13th and Pennsylvania, NW, in downtown Washington. It is co-sponsored by the National History Center and the Wilson Center, with support from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.  Reservations are requested because of limited seating: HAPP@wilsoncenter.org. All are welcome; graduate students are especially encouraged to attend.

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