IS GLOBALIZATION McDONALDIZATION? - Globalization and Islam (Chapter 6)       Return to Unit List

This unit takes a brief, introductory look at the debate over globalization in Islamic countries. Mark LeVine, the author of one of your on-line readings, notes that although "few Americans would imagine it, the Middle East is a particularly interesting place to examine the globalization debates, because here the issues have engaged Arab and Muslim scholars and ordinary people alike with particular intensity." The following sites consider the question of globalization and its impacts on and implications for Islamic countries from several perspectives. But all of them consistently identify two key issues: first, Islamic countries have largely been marginal to the globalization process; that is, the benefits of globalization have for the most part passed much of the Islamic world by. Second, despite that marginality, globalization is having tremendous impacts on the Islamic world. Indeed, Muslim countries were experiencing these impacts long before "globalization" was even a concept that meant anything in the West. As LeVine points out, the Islamic world has been engaged in an on-going "critical dialogue" with Western globalization for well over a century. Thus, globalization is something that much of the Islamic world is both historically familiar with, yet has remained largely outside and critical of. This is particularly ironic when one considers the pivotal role the Islamic world has played in global geopolitics, due to its control over a large portion of the world's crude oil reserves.

To begin, listen to a 20-minute talk by Professor Shireen Hunter , given November 2, 2000, at the Library of Congress's lecture series on Globalization and Muslim Societies (click on "Shireen Hunter"). Her talk introduces the concept of globalization and briefly touches on the implications of globalization for Islamic countries, and, in particular, for women in Islamic countries. As you listen, keep the following questions in mind:

Next, read the brief essay by Mark LeVine, entitled "Waiting for Islam in the Global Era".

Another perspective on this issue comes from Mona Maisami.

Finally, read a similar perspective on globalization from Professor Chandra Muzaffar.

In some ways, the attitudes conveyed here help prepare you to better understand the very complex issue of how globalization has shaped historic and recent events in Afghanistan, which is the subject of another unit in Chapter Eight (South Asia). As you work through that unit, you may wish to return to some of the above sites for further insight into the situation in Afghanistan.