Rethinking Islamisms: The transformation of Islamist scenes in a new Middle East

Name of applicant

morten valbjørn


Aarhus University


DKK 772,228



Type of grant

Monograph Fellowships


The project explores whether, why and how the different Islamist scenes in a 'new Middle East' have been significantly transformed after the Arab uprisings, and examines to what extent this requires a fundamental rethinking of the scholarly approaches to Islamism.


Like the broader debate on Arab politics, the Arab uprisings have given rise to a considerable debate and soul-searching among scholars of Islamism. In addition to discussions about whether and how different Islamist scenes have changed there has also been a considerable soul-searching about whether past analytical approaches should be rejected, revised and revived to understand the present Islamist scenes. In addition to providing a novel approach to how Islamism can be conceptualized and grasped and an examination of existing theories about various aspects of Islamism, the project does also address the lack of an integrated overview of Middle Eastern Islamism one decade after the Arab uprisings.


The project will first develop a novel approach to how Islamism can be conceptualized and grasped in a way that goes beyond both (Orientalist) essentialism (reducing Islamism to some Islamic essence) and instrumentalism (where religion is explained away as epiphenomenal). Then, it will zoom in on specific types of Islamism and examine whether and how they have changed significantly during the last decade and discuss the implications for theoretical debates more narrowly linked to the specific type of Islamism in question. Insights on the various types of Islamism will finally be integrated into a comprehensive comparison and evaluation of continuity and change of today's Middle Eastern Islamism(s) based on an examination of how changes in the different Islamist scenes interact.

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