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Modern Islamic Discourse

Exploring trends of modern Islamic discourse in the Middle East through a study of Arabic texts

This project seeks to explore and contextualise Islamic thought in the Middle East in the modern period. It involves researchers, postgraduates and final-year undergraduates at Cambridge, and collaborates with Ron Nettler at the University of Oxford. In particular, this project aims at:

-analysing the trope of the early period of Islamic history - al-salaf al-salih

-locating discursive shifts in Islamic thought and identifying how they correspond to the social and political context

-understanding the politics of modern exegeses of the Quran


MPhil Students:

Alex Walsh. 

I'm now in my fifth year at DMES, completing a research M.Phil in Middle Eastern Studies with a modern historical focus. My year abroad in Cairo in 2010 - 2011 has made me an unashamed Egyptophile and so far my research has focused on Egyptian Islamist groups. I'm particularly interested in their own historical narratives, how they create a vision of their past, and situate themselves within Islamic history as a whole. As an undergraduate, I looked at how the Muslim Brotherhood contested Nasserist histories of the 1952 Revolution through writing their own narrative in an Islamic framework. The Jama'a al-Islamiyya is the focus of my current research. Perhaps the most notorious and violent Islamist group in Egypt during the 1990s, the Jama'a leadership renounced violence during their incarcertation and, with the 2011 event, completed their evolution to peaceful politics, winning thirteen seats in Parliament. This change necessitated a significant ideological and discursive shift, and a renegotiation with their past, which makes the Jama'a a very interesting group to study.