Professors Named 2009 Carnegie Scholars

Professors Named 2009 Carnegie Scholars

The Carnegie Corporation of New York today selected Georgetown professors Samer Shehata and Yvonne Haddad as two of its 2009 Carnegie Scholars for their commitment to enriching the quality of the public dialogue on Islam. 

Shehata, an assistant professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Haddad, professor in the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, were among the 24 scholars — well-established and promising young thinkers, analysts and writers — who will receive two-year grants of up to $100,000 from the foundation.

“We are particularly pleased that two of our faculty, Yvonne Haddad and Samer Shehata, have been selected for these prestigious awards from the Carnegie Corporation of New York,” said School of Foreign Service Dean Robert Gallucci. “I am confident that the results of their research will add significantly to our knowledge of Islamic thought and politics and further enhance the reputation of the two centers they represent – the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in the School of Foreign Service.”

Shehata’s project, “Islamist Electoral and Parliamentary Participation: Egypt, Morocco and Kuwait,” will examine why Islamist parties participate in elections in semi-authoritarian regimes, the reasons behind their electoral success and the particular policies they adopt once they enter parliament.

The specialist in Arab politics plans to use ethnographic research, interviews and close analysis of official records to illustrate the degree to which participation in electoral politics has an effect on the character of legislative institutions in these regimes. He also will explore the consequences of Islamist electoral and parliamentary activity on Middle East politics. 

“Islamist groups are, without question, the most popular and influential force in the Middle East today, and elections in the region are taking place more frequently and with greater seriousness,” Shehata said. “My research examines the intersection of these two important phenomenon — Islamists and elections.”

While Shehata will research Arab politics, Haddad will turn her focus Islamic thought. The historian of the Arab world received her grant for her project, “Sayyid Qutb: From Village Boy to Islamist Martyr.” She will analyze the impact of Western political and theological discourse on Islamic thought and Muslims through a re-examination of the life and works of Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb, whose writings represent the most radical interpretation of Islam.

Qutb, who has influenced revolutionary and terrorist movements, underwent a transformation from a liberal to neo-conservative revolutionary during and following his stay in the Untied States from 1949 to 1951. With Qutb’s transformation as context, Haddad will offer an understanding of the impact of American values on American Muslim youth as they cope with racism and alienation.

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” said Haddad. “I look forward to adding to the corpus of information that continues to be developed on the work of this major modern Islamic thinker.”

Shehata teaches courses on comparative and Middle East politics and political economy, U.S. policy toward the Middle East, Islamist Politics, Egyptian politics and society, culture and politics in the Arab world. He has published numerous articles in both academic and policy journals and his first book “Shop Floor Culture and Politics in Egypt” (State University of New York Press, 2009), will be published in the fall.

Haddad‘s fields of expertise include 20th-century Islam; intellectual, social and political history in the Arab world; and Islam in North America and the West. She also teaches courses on Muslim-Christian relations and Arab intellectuals.
“We are cultivating a diverse scholarly community spanning a range of disciplines with the expectation that their voices will help Americans develop a more complex understanding of Muslim societies here and throughout the world — revealing Islam’s rich diversity,” said Carnegie Corporation of New York President Vartan Gregorian. “Only through vibrant dialogue, guided by bold and nuanced scholarship, can we move public thinking into new territory.”


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