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Imagining Pan-Islam: Religious Activism and Political Utopias

Elie Kedourie Memorial Lecture, delivered by Dr James Piscatori, on 9 November 2004.

This lecture will look at the development of Islamic transnational sentiment from the abolition of the Caliphate early in the twentieth century. The sense among Muslims that something has gone wrong with the broad community of faith, the umma, has been all-pervasive, but incapable of generating unity of purpose. Although the stirrings of cross-border networks have been noted, cosmopolitanism has not inevitably resulted. Pan-Islam has had an undeniable utility, however: political elites have used it to solidify their rule, and new counter-elites, the would-be revolutionaries, find in Islam the means to mount a formidable challenge to the post-imperial and even national orders.

Dr James Piscatori teaches at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, part of the University of Oxford.

More about the Elie Kedourie Memorial Lectures