Understanding Islamist Movements: Historical Roots and Current Realities

Understanding Islamist Movements: Historical Roots and Current Realities

This course asks how we should understand the various political movements that claim to act in the name of Islam. What do the Islamic State and the various affiliates of al-Qaeda in the Middle East have in common with each other, or with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, among others? What distinguishes these movements from the Taliban in Afghanistan or Boko Haram in West Africa? Why do some of these groups act or inspire others to carry out attacks in Europe and North America? To what extent can they be explained in political terms, and what exactly is the role of religion? How do they compare with non-Islamic terrorist or revolutionary movements?

This course will address these and other questions by going beyond the conventional geopolitical and Western journalistic perspectives. We will examine the historical roots of political Islam, trace the origins of the movement known as Salafism and the changing uses of the term jihad. We will also look in depth at the discussions that Islamists have amongst themselves, how they see themselves and what they stand for. We will look at the jihadist poetry and the religious debates they conduct between themselves, as well as ask how people in the affected regions, especially writers and intellectuals, view the movements. Finally, there will be sessions addressing practical questions, such as how do Islamist groups acquire their weapons, and how does the global oil market affect Islamism?

Interdisciplinary by its very nature, the course is taught by distinguished faculty in a variety of fields from Europe and the United States, as well as experts from the international community in Geneva.

The course will treat the following topics, among others:

  • The origins and nature of Salafism
  • The changing uses of the term “jihad.”
  • Arab intellectuals’ views on religion and Islamic movements
  • The Iranian Revolution and its legacy
  • The View from Moscow: Russia and Islam; Russia and the Middle East
  • The poetry of the Islamic State; How do jihadists represent themselves?
  • Arms and ammunition: How do groups get their weapons?

Equivalence of 4 ECTS credits

Subjects

  • Religious Studies
  • History

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International Cultural Heritage Law

The summer school is organized by the Art-Law Centre and the UNESCO Chair in the International Law of the Protection of Cultural Heritage of the University of Geneva, in collaboration with the University of Miami School of Law.

The summer school aims to develop the students’ awareness and general understanding of the main substantive themes of international cultural heritage law, namely: the trade in cultural objects; the restitution of stolen or looted artworks; the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict; the protection of the built heritage from natural and human-induced disasters; the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage and of the diversity of cultural expressions.

The lecturers will examine the legal instruments adopted by UNESCO and the United Nations, such as the ‘Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict’, the ‘Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property’, the ‘Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’, and the ‘Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’.

In order to offer an up-to-date glance at international cultural heritage law, the lecturers will describe its complex relationship with other fields of law – namely general international law, human rights law, and intellectual property law – and with the issue of dispute settlement. Moreover, the lecturers will provide an overview of the different ideological positions of the relevant stakeholders and of the risks and liabilities in the art trade.
Finally, the summer school will bring out the challenges to cultural heritage that emanate from new threats. To name but a few: reduced protection of sites and monuments due to lack of public money and political support; natural catastrophes; art forgeries.

The summer course includes lectures at the University of Geneva and at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as well as one field trip to one Swiss UNESCO World Heritage site, either the city of Berne or Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces.

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Does welfare spending reduce poverty? Does the minimum wage destroy jobs? Does trade liberalisation increase inequality? Does development aid really help poor countries? Do longer sentences reduce crime? Policy makers around the globe are confronted with these questions on a daily basis and effective policy interventions can only be designed with good answers.

Measuring and understanding the effect of policies is now more important than ever in any field, from development to labour, from finance to education and beyond. The Geneva Summer School in “Evaluating Policy Interventions” offers students a comprehensive understanding of the most advanced techniques of policy evaluation through a powerful combination of theoretical classes and applied examples.

The faculty is a mix of internationally renowned academics and policy analysts working in the most influential international organisations and public administrations from around the globe. 

Equivalence of 3 ECTS

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