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Alworth Institute Memorial Lecture

Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Memorial Lecture

This annual lecture, named in honor of the late Royal D. Alworth, Jr.'s life and interests and normally delivered during the second semester, is designed to raise public understanding of a significant international topic.

Ahmed SamatarMuslims and the West in the Age of Globalization

Presented on April 11th, 2007 by Dr. Ahmed Samatar

Willie Henderson, Director of the Alworth Institute, writes on the Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Memorial Lecture (11th April 2007) given by Dr. Ahmed Samatar, Dean of International Studies at Macalester College, St. Paul and expert on Somalia and on the rise of Islamic consciousness:

Dr. Samatar provided a stimulating, thoughtful and, at times, controversial Memorial Lecture on ‘Muslims and the West in the Age of Globalization’. There were in excess of one hundred and forty people in the audience including a good mix of students (including international students) and community members.

His talk, balanced as well as critical, developed a set of historical and contemporary themes outlining the sense of grievance that many Muslims feel over the steep decline of the cultural significance of, and respect for Islamic culture; over the impact of colonialism— a consideration re-activated by war in Iraq; over the comparative lack of economic development and constitutional civic life in most of the Islamic world and the uncritical American support for Israel (now being subject to more critical assessment in the United States than it has in the recent past) with respect to its dealings with the rights of the Palestinians. He called for a reestablishment of the tradition of practical and intelligent reason (sanctioned by over a thousand years of Islamic scholarship) both within the Muslim world and in the West, and for a reconsideration of American policy.

Dr. Samatar’s talk gave rise to a robust flow of questions and to healthy discussion during the reception that followed the talk. Dr. Samatar suggested that if anyone wished to follow up in reading some of the ideas developed in his lecture, then the reading list (below) contains material that he has identified as useful.

Aburish, Said A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite 1997.

Ali, Tariq Bush in Babylon: The Recolonization of Iraq
London: Verso, 2003.

Arkoun, Mohammed. The Unthought in Contemporary Islamic Thought London: Saqi Books, 2002.

Bloom, Jonathan and Blair, Sheila Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002

Bulliet, Richard The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization
New York: Columbia University, 2004.

Bunt, Gary Islam in the Digital Age London: Pluto Press, 2003.

Goody, Jack Islam in Europe Oxford: Polity Press, 2004.

Lieven, Anatol America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Rosen, Lawrence The Culture of Islam Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Zia, Khan Hussan Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective
Bloomington, Indiana: Author House, 2005.


Dr. Ahmed I. Samatar is James Wallace Professor and Dean of International Studies and Programming at Macalester College in St. Paul. He has lectured at many universities and colleges including Cornell, Harvard, London School of Economics and Political Science, Somali National University and Wellesley College.

Samatarís areas of expertise are global political economy, political and social thought, and African development. He has written/edited five books and more than 30 articles, is founder and editorin- chief of Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies, and is the editor of Macalester International. His current research focuses upon two topics: leadership and the state in Somalia, and globalization and the rise of Islamic consciousness.

Memorial Lecture Archives