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December 2009 Events


December 1, 2009
Islam and Nationalism
12 – 2 p.m.
University Club
RSVP to or (213) 740-8562

The Arabic word for charisma — baraka (also the source of our President’s name) — refers to a god-given power to lead people on a holy struggle for liberation. While Islamic liberation has reached the West primarily as a war against “American imperialism,” it is also present in such disparate practices as Sufi dances and whirling dervishes, the spiritual quest for transcendence. This panel features USC College’s Laurie Brand (International Relations) and other experts on the Middle East.

Laurie Brand (International Relations)

Bio: Laurie A. Brand is the Robert Grandford Wright professor and professor of International Relations at USC. A four-time Fulbright scholar to the Middle East and North Africa, and a Carnegie Corporation scholar for 2008–10, she is author most recently of Citizens Abroad: Emigration and the State in the Middle East and North Africa (Cambridge, 2006).

Abstract: "Islam and Nationalism: Field Research in Algeria and Jordan"
Religion and nationalism were inextricably linked in the anti-colonial movements that emerged in the Middle East and North Africa following the First World War.  In order to understand the evolution of the relationship between nationalism and religion in the region following independence, this project seeks to chart the evolution of the official national narrative in four countries. To do so, it draws primarily on a reading of history, social studies/civics and religion text books used in government schools. Brand’s presentation will be a preliminary report following field research trips to two of the case study countries, Jordan and Algeria. 

Azade-Ayse Rorlich (History)

Bio: A historian of Russia/Eurasia, professor Azade-Ayse Rorlich teaches classes that highlight the multinational dimension of the Russian state and the relevance of cultural interaction. Her own research and writing focus on the Muslims of the Russian empire/USSR, with a particular emphasis on Islamic modernism and identity discourses.

Abstract: "The ‘Golden Minbar’ International Festival of Muslim Cinema and Tatar National Identity"
The purpose of the paper is to launch a discussion of the Golden Minbar festival as a site for cultural interaction and identity construction. It aims to explore Tatar national identity, as well as Muslim identity as articulated through cultural representations of Muslim life and values in the films entered in the competition of a festival of Muslim cinema.


December 1, 2009
Cultural Borderlands and Ambiguities of Empire
4 – 6 p.m.
Social Sciences Building (SOS) 250

Moderated by USC College’s Robert English (International Relations) and Sarah Pratt (Slavic Languages and Literatures), this event offers a unique intra-USC colloquium that brings together faculty and graduate students from three different College departments as key participants in a conversation about texts and types of discourse that elucidate ambiguities of power and subordination involving the Ottoman, Habsburg, Holy Roman, French, and Russian empires. How do these struggles continue to shape our world? Speakers include: Azade-Ayse Rorlich (Associate Professor of History and Slavic Languages and Literatures), Mehmet Sinan Birdal (International Relations graduate student), Antonia Szabari (Assistant Professor of French and Italian and Comparative Literature) and Yuliya Ilchuk (Slavic Languages and Literatures graduate student).


Events and details subject to change. For more information, email