Faculty Insight: Islam in the West-–A Clash of Civilizations?

WED, NOV 10, 2010 (6:54)

Faculty Insight is produced in partnership with Harvard University Extension School and ThoughtCast. This third interview of the series is with Jocelyne Cesari, a level-headed yet astute specialist in contemporary Islamic society. Muslims who live in the Western world today face multiple challenges — suspicion, isolation, ignorance, fear. And post-9/11, of course, they carry the weight of that violent attack. So how are we to move forward, in an enlightened, inclusive manner? How ought we to apply our secular, humanist and individualistic values at such a time? For starters, let’s listen to Jocelyne Cesari. She might not have all the answers, but as the director of the inter-faculty Islam in the West Program, she’s clearly the right person to ask. She is also an associate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for European Studies at Harvard, and teaches in Harvard’s Department of Government, its Divinity School and its Extension School.

+ BIO: Jocelyne Cesari

Jocelyne Cesari is an associate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, and teaches at the Harvard Divinity School and in the department of government. Cesari is a French political scientist, tenured at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Paris and specializes in contemporary Islamic societies. Before coming to Harvard, she served as an associate research scholar and visiting professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. At Harvard, she is director of the interfaculty Islam in the West Program. This research program produced a major publication, the Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States. She also coordinates the islamopedia website. Her areas of expertise include Islam and globalization, Muslim minorities in Europe and America, and Islam and politics in North Africa. Over the course of her career, Cesari has published 13 books and more than 50 articles in European and American journals. Her most recent books are When Islam and Democracy Meet: Muslims in Europe and in the United States and European Muslims and the Secular State. Her forthcoming book is Muslims in the West After 9/11: Religion, Politics, and Law. She has also received grants to write the reports “Islam and Fundamental Rights” and “The Religious Consequences of September 11, 2001, on Muslims in Europe” for the European Commission.

+ BIO: Jenny Attiyeh

My name is Jenny Attiyeh, and I began my career in 1987 in London as a freelance reporter on the arts for the BBC World Service Radio. I remember my first interview for “Meridian”, as the program I worked for was called. It was with Placido Domingo, and I’ve never been so nervous since. After my work permit ran out, I returned to Los Angeles, my home city, and continued as an arts reporter for KCRW, an NPR station in Santa Monica. While there, I reported and produced an award-winning documentary on Japanese-American internment during World War II. Shortly after, I was accepted to a National Public Radio residency, which brought me to Washington, D.C. and to WBUR, an NPR station in Boston to report stories for NPR’s Performance Today. I later attended the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. After that, I remained in New York City for 9 years, during which time I worked primarily as a reporter on television and radio. I hosted and produced a weekly arts and culture segment for WNYC TV, a PBS station, until it went out of business (thanks to then Mayor Giuliani, who sold the station). Before the lights went out, I managed to produce a mini-documentary on the making of a Philip Glass opera, “Les Enfants Terribles.” I worked next as a correspondent for a nationally televised PBS program called “Freedom Speaks” which focused on the media, until it too was taken off the air. (I detect a pattern here…) In between gigs, I also worked as a reporter for WBAI radio, a Pacifica station, and WNYC radio, an NPR station, covering local politics and the arts. I then moved to Maine, where I lived by the harbor in Kittery, and worked as a reporter for New Hampshire Public Television. There, I covered the ‘99/2000 New Hampshire presidential primary season, and interviewed the major presidential candidates. I also participated as a panelist in nationally televised presidential debates, hosted by Peter Jennings and Tim Russert. Following the conclusion of the New Hampshire primary season, I moved to Boston, where I did freelance writing on academics, the 2004 presidential campaign and the single life, among other subjects. From this base, in early 2005, I launched ThoughtCast.

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