Closing Plenary Session

Day 3, Plenary Session 3B: 3:00pm – 4:30pm

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16) – Main Auditorium, Level 5, Room 1

Chair: Associate Professor Chris Hudson (RMIT University)


Peter Mandaville Peter Mandaville

  • Consuming Muslims: Global Neoliberalism and the Transformation of “Political Islam”
  • Abstract: It is possible today to identify new modalities of Islamic activism that can best be accounted for by understanding Muslims around the world–and in this case with specific reference to transnational movements with origins in Europe, Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia–as disciplined by a global neoliberalism that constitutes them first and foremost as consuming subjects. I use elements of new social movement theory to explain how various forms of consumption relating to leisure, new media, and shopping and the concomitant challenges they pose to traditional forms of religious authority in the Muslim world have given rise to Islamic “lifestyle” movements that are challenging the previous monopoly possessed by conventional Islamist groups and parties in the public sphere. In sketching this decidedly “post-Islamist” landscape, I also highlight a number of Muslim thinkers and activists seeking to mobilize an emancipatory “critical Islam” that is simultaneously wary of both embedded neoliberalism and traditional forms of hegemony within Islam itself.
  • About Professor Mandaville: Peter Mandaville is the Director of the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies and a professor of government and politics at George Mason University (GMU) outside Washington DC. Peter is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. In 2011-12, he served as a member of Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State where his portfolio focused on U.S. policy in the Middle East during the Arab Uprisings. He was the Founding Director of GMU’s Center for Global Studies and his visiting affiliations have included American University, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Pew Research Center. Born and raised in the Middle East—the third generation of his family to live in the region—his recent research has taken him to a wide range of Muslim settings such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and West Africa. Peter is most recently the author of Global Political Islam (Routledge, 2007). Other books include Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma (Routledge, 2001) as well as several volumes of edited essays in the fields of international relations and Islamic Studies, including most recently Politics from Afar: Transnational Diasporas & Networks (Columbia University Press, 2012). Peter has also has testified before the U.S. Congress on political Islam, authored numerous book chapters and journal articles, and contributed to publications such as, the International Herald Tribune and The Guardian. His current research—which has been supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council, among others—focuses on globalization, identity and transnationalism in the Muslim world and the concept of post-Western world order.
Paul James Paul James

  • Destroying the Planet Slowly: What are we going to do about it?
  • Abstract: We live in a period that for some time has been called ‘the anthropocene period’, the period in which humans have had a recognizable impact upon the earth’s ecological systems. However, more than that we live in a recent phase of that longer period which began with our capacity to make our own lives on this planet unsustainable: ecologically, economically, politically and culturally. We are the first civilization with the technological and social capacity to override prior senses of boundaries and limits—and we know it. Over the last hundred years, three key defining influences on the planet have been human population growth, urbanization and globalization. These trends have come into intersection with each as part of a manifold crisis of the human condition. Firstly, a population explosion, together with an economic-growth fetish, has put unprecedented ecological pressure on the planet. Secondly, an unabated movement of people move from rural to urban areas has, particularly associated with slum development in the Global South, put increased pressure on urban infrastructure and relations of inequality. Thirdly, globalization has crossed and challenged the boundaries of cultural difference. Such boundaries have ironically hardened across religious and political differences that were previously difficult but usually negotiated successfully. This talk responds to these themes and discusses principles for acting differently.
  • About Professor James: Professor Paul James is Director of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme. Paul is also Director of the RMIT Global Cities Institute, his academic expertise is in Globalisation and Cultural Diversity and he is the author or editor of 24 books. Paul has been invited to deliver addresses in over twenty countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel-Palestine, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Taiwan and the United States. He has been an advisor to a number of agencies and governments including the Helsinki Process, the Canadian Prime Minister G20 Forum (2004), the National Economic Advisory Council of Malaysia, and the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor and the Papua New Guinea Minister for Community Development. Paul’s awards include the Japan-Australia Foundation Fellowship, an Australian Research Council Fellowship, and the Crisp Medal by the Australasian Political Studies Association for the best book in the field of political studies.