François Burgat
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Writing the History of a Research Career
in Understanding Political Islam
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The introduction outlines the book’s aims and sets out its major arguments and the author’s methodological contributions to the study of Islamism. A coherent approach to political Islam requires dividing it into two aspects. First, the reasons why what the author terms a Muslim “vocabulary” (to distinguish it from the concept of a Muslim “grammar”) has become so popular. The author traces these back to post-colonial identity politics. Second, the conditions in which this Muslim vocabulary has been deployed to serve politics as diverse as those of, on the one hand, the Tunisian Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi through, at the other extreme, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

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