François Burgat
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Being a Political Scientist of the Muslim World
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Research centers dedicated to the study of the Arab world have long cultivated a kind of emotional block with respect to the key figures of political Islam. Often, whosoever wishes to speak on Islamists must invite their most bitter opponents (whether those in power, or from the left)—and … those opponents only. Countering these instincts, this chapter covers the author’s formative encounters with the key Tunisian figure Rached Ghannouchi, and its role in building the foundations of his approach to theorizing political Islam. It analyzes the reasons behind his divergence with the rejection of the all-but-undifferentiated rejection of Islamism, and their likely origin in the fact that the author’s first contacts in the field of political Islam were sociological and human—rather than merely reading based and theoretical.

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