Whither Islamic Democracy? Translating Democracy into Arabic


Ahmed Al=Rahim (Religious Studies)

Joshua White (History)

Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (Politics)

Jonathan Teubner (Religious Studies)


During the last three decades there has been a vigorous debate in the Arab world about democracy and the role of government in society. The uneven quality of this debate reflects the intellectual currents found in the Arab world (e.g., pan-Arabism, secularism, and Islamism) as well as the impact of globalization. But as vigorous as this debate has been, it has had little if any practical impact on institutions of government in that Arab world. In the West Arabic literature on democracy has gone largely unnoticed—with a focus instead on Arab and Muslim writers writing in English and French. There is a critical need to understand the history and nature of this debate and to identify the needs of those seriously engaging in it. This project will invite UVA faculty who are interested in addressing the history of promoting democracy in the Middle East through the translation, distribution, and promotion of seminal Western literature on Democracy (e.g., Locke, Hume, Paine, Kant).