Neoliberalism and Global Jihad

This course investigates the links between the global spread of neoliberal economic policies and novel interpretations of jihad among Muslims since the 1970s. We will examine the numerous economic and political crises that shook the post-WWII internationalist world order during the 1970s and set the stage for the rise of neoliberalism, with severe and lasting consequences for the global masses. “Western” proponents of neoliberalism have argued for its benefits to all, claiming that such reforms shrink “bloated” bureaucracies and reduce state interference in “free” trade and competition across borders.  They have declared that neoliberalism in conjunction with advances in communications technologies would make the “global economy” an inevitability.  The collapse of the Soviet bloc by the early 1990s and the discrediting of the rival socialist model only bolstered this new vision of the global order.  While the promise of greater prosperity for all has yet to be realized, the effects of neoliberalism have been dramatic and widespread.  Much of the course will be given over to studying these effects since the 1970s, especially the gutting of the welfare state, an accompanying weakening of national loyalties, and the rise of transnational movements like the global jihad that challenge aspects of a neoliberal world by making use of the very same advances in communications technologies that advocates of neoliberalism have.  We will question ahistorical interpretations of the global jihad as intrinsic to “Islam” and instead consider this rather unexpected movement of largely disaffected young men and women to be a product and beneficiary of the economic, political, and technological transformations of the past four decades.