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The past ten years have seen rapid and dramatic economic, political, social and technological changes on a worldwide scale. Transcending borders and accelerating people's ability to communicate and to trade across continents, this global revolution has been described as the process of "globalization."

Like the rest of the world, Muslim societies, from Morocco to Indonesia and Nigeria to the Islamic republics of Central Asia, have been deeply affected by globalization. The lives of their peoples have been changed, as have their thought patterns, and sense of creative expression. Some have welcomed these changes, while others worry about the nature of the transformations taking place and the capacity of those affected to respond appropriately. One of the underlying causes of such anxiety has been a multifaceted cultural concern: how to protect a unique heritage in the face of global pressure; to uphold religious traditions; to preserve linguistic purity; to defend social institutions; and ultimately, to maintain a viable identity in the midst of a rapidly changing global environment.

To address these issues the Library of Congress has organized a series of five symposia on Globalization and Muslim Societies, three of which were supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. More than three dozen intellectuals, policymakers, organizational leaders, journalists, bankers, lawyers and others, representing some of the best minds in the United States and the Muslim world, have been invited to share their thoughts on the issues and shed light on the debates.


Globalization and Women in Muslim Societies
Event Date: November 2, 2000

Six women from academia, non-governmental organizations and Washington think tanks discussed the impact on the wearing of the veil, interactions among women associations, empowerment of women in the fields of economics and politics, and the facilitative effect that the new technology has had on communication among women around the globe.

Globalization and Law in Muslim Societies
Event Date: December 7, 2000
Ten participants from major law schools in the United States, the World Bank and private law offices discuss the way globalization affected Islamic law and, more particularly, personal status law and commercial law, and how Western systems of law have had at times to adapt to Islamic practices.

Globalization and Minorities in Muslim Societies
Event Date: January 30, 2001
Six participants discuss the impact of globalization on some of the ethnic and religious minorities in Muslim countries including the Baha'is, the Kurds, the Copts, the Southern Sudanese, and the Armenians.

Intellectual Debates in Islam in the New Global Era
Event Date: June 27, 2001
Four top intellectuals from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the United States look at intellectual debates on the role of Islam in the global arena that are dividing the Muslim world today. A number of topics are covered including: Islam and democracy, Islam and the West, and Islam and the other major world religions.

Globalization and Civil Society in the Muslim World
Event Date: November 14, 2001
Six participants explore the dimensions of civil society in the Muslim world from a variety of perspectives. Historical examples include the origins of civil society in early Islam, the relationship between people and law as revealed through Egyptian court records, and civil reform in the Ottoman Empire. Contemporary examples include the effects of globalization on traditional concepts of civil society in the Arab world, civil society in Tajikistan, and the role of intellectuals in relation to civil society in Iran.

Lecture series made possible with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation


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