Understanding Muslim Societies Speaker Addresses American Influence on Arab World Democracy
On September 12, 2012, The BCIU and the World Affairs Council of Greater Reading co-hosted Understanding Muslim Societies, part of the World Affairs Council of America’s Engage America Speaker Series supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. This project was part of the Six Top Issues for U.S. National Security Engage America Speakers Series that was undertaken by the World Affairs Councils of America network leading up to the 2012 election. The keynote speaker in Reading, Pennsylvania, was Dr. Amaney Jamal, Associate Professor of Politics at Princeton University and Director of the Workshop on Arab Political Development. Her recently published book, Of Empires and Citizens: Pro-American Democracy or No Democracy at All?” was available for purchase and book signing.
Dr. Jamal’s talk addressed many beliefs, misconceptions, and questions on Arab societies, mentalities, and culture. Does democracy breed economic development, or does economic development breed democracy? Why have Arab citizens not demanded more democracy if they support democracy? How can Arabs have strong commitments to democracy as well as strong commitments to regimes that don’t support society? What are Arab attitudes toward the United States? How do anti-American platforms influence Arab politics?
Dr. Jamal presented over ten years of personal research on issues such Islamic regimes, institution of Shari’a law, and reciprocated need between the United States and Arab countries. She challenged the audience to recognize that theoretical models of democracy do not coincide with reality in the Arab world. Over 130 people attended the luncheon and at least eight sites streamed the event online.
Amaney A. Jamal, is associate professor of politics at Princeton University, and she currently directs the Workshop on Arab Political Development.
: Sue Calvin, program administrator