OnDemand
August 16th, 2002

The Challenge of September 11: The Social Dimensions of Terrorism

Speakers

BARBARA RESKIN: Our session is “The Challenge of September 11th: The Social Dimensions of Terrorism.” I want to thank Felice Levine who is sitting in the front row, one of the co-organizers of
this session, and Craig Calhoun. So all I am is a figurehead here. Before I introduce the panelists, I want to say one thing to you about another event that I think might be of interest and concern to
people in the room. That is that at the end of July Egyptian Sociologist Saad Ibrahim was sentenced by the Supreme State Security Court in Cairo, Egypt to seven years in prison. Saad Ibrahim holds a
PhD from the University of Washington. He holds U.S. citizenship, and as far as we can tell it appears that the sentence stems from his being a leading scholar and advocate of democratic reforms in
Egypt. The American Sociological Association immediately drafted, conferred and released a public statement, and wrote to several people who might have some influence in this matter, but we have also
put together a packet of information for people of the meetings. You can get it in our public information office, which I think is on the fourth floor. It gives names and addresses of people to whom
you can write to make an appeal for Professor Ibrahim release. Again, he is an eminent scholar, an advocate of democratic reforms, and a somewhat older person who is not healthy. This is really a true
kind of tragedy for scholarship and academic freedom, and for us in particular. So I hope people take an opportunity to pick up the materials, check the website and send letters. Okay, now a more
pleasurable task. That is to introduce to you our speakers. I am going to introduce each person before they speak. The panelists will talk about twenty minutes, and they are keeping their remarks at
that time so that you will have a chance to ask questions afterwards. So think about questions if you have them. We should have 25 minutes for discussion at the end. Think about questions and, because
we’ve only got this one mic, one of our panel suggested sort of compiling questions for each speaker so you can think about whether you want to direct questions to specific speakers. Our first
speaker is Nilufer Gole. I’m going to say this in English. I apologize. I don’t have a good French accent and I don’t want to embarrass myself. But you can read in your program she is the
Director of The Institute of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, previously she was a professor at Bogazic University in Istanbul. Her newest book, which is coming out next year, is
Islam in Modernity. She is also one of the many contributors to a volume that has just been published. I want to hold it up and show you. You can get brochures for this. Craig Calhoun coedited
Understanding September 11th, so a set of essays by social scientists. It is my pleasure to turn over the podium to Dr. Gole. I had a list and that is not the order of the program. I haven’t looked
at my program. I have been just trying to write things, so I apologize. I don’t know what the order of the program is. I was going alphabetical. Okay. Craig Calhoun. It is my pleasure to introduce
to you Craig Calhoun, who is President of the Social Science Research Council and Professor of Sociology and History at New York University. Craig took immediate action to try to stimulate responses
from social scientists to help us understand September 11th, and as I said, the book I just showed you has just been published. He is coeditor of that book. He has recently published a book on
nationalism, and he shall go first. CRAIG CALHOUN: I have no strong claim to going first, and you will want to hear from the other panelists, so I will try to be brief, but my assignment was to be
somewhat introductory. Science is challenged, not only by new theories, carefully planned experiments, and sustained research, but by practical events in the world. It is challenges to use our
existing knowledge effectively, not least to inform the public, and also to ask how well our established frameworks of understanding and analysis deal with new phenomena. Some such events challenge
us, also, in another way. They reshape aspects of the social world so that we must take account of the changed reality. The change is seldom at the level of the deepest law-like consistencies, but it
may be basic at the level of perceptions, institutions; and the actions are both ordinary and powerful. One of our continuing challenges is to rework our theories so that they deal subtly with a fluid
and sometimes contradictory reality, with nonlinear as well as linear changes, and with shifts in the ways important variables seem to relate to each other. The attacks of September 11th were such a
major event. And like all major events, upon examination they turned out to involve long chains of causation as well as sudden transformations of state. They turned out to have many dimensions and to
reveal themselves differently from different perspectives. As it happened, my own first perspective was from ground level, a few hundred feet away from the World Trade Center. The morning of September
11th was clear and bright, the sky especially blue, the breeze light. A loud crash startled me as I sat down to breakfast with my parents, and I ran first to the window and then outside. The flames
that shot through the gaping holes in the twin towers were oddly beautiful. The air shimmered with what I supposed were fragments of shattered glass. Occasionally a bit of debris fell from a high
floor, dark against the generally bright background. Only after I had stared for three or four minutes did my mind accept what my eyes were releasing: falling bodies, human beings leaping to one
certain death because another seemed worse. And, eventually, the towers themselves fell, and the bright day turned darker than midnight with ash billowing around and blocking the sun. To be across the
street from the cinematic horror was to be an eyewitness, perhaps, but not to grasp the whole picture. My memories are still startling clear, but they are fragments. They do not go to the center of
the events of September 11th, though they weave my own connection to them. Standing alone, they do not give the events. Some of the images I saw on TV are as indelible as those formed while I was
close enough for the smoke to sting my eyes. My understanding of what happened depends on far more than what I saw that day. The sense of having seen it though is still powerful. Indeed, the visual
images are basic to the very idea that there was a singular hit to be apprehended, that the complex chain of events could be contained into a specific package. I can try critically to distinguish what
I saw firsthand from what I saw only on television, though I fear the operation is inevitably incomplete. It is still harder to separate what I know because I saw it, from what I know because someone
or another provided words to give shape to that knowledge. It was a terrorist attack. It was war. It was a moment when everything changed. It was simple human tragedy. Ten minutes into the chain of
events, standing in the street just north of the World Financial Center and looking up, I heard from passersby that the damage came from a plane and not a bomb or gas explosion. Five minutes later, I
learned that the crash was not an accident because a second plane hit, certainly, but I was on the other side of the building and did not see the crash itself. I heard the explanation from people who
shouted as they ran away, and then I heard a radio report. Nothing I saw or felt after that was free from the influence of the media and commentary and discussion. Much of that discussion has been
simplified, some of it outright false. It is a task for social science research to develop a richer, deeper understanding of the issues involved. Partly, this is so that social science can bring
better analysis to the formation of public policy and public understanding, an important task after September 11th when many frames were simple and the media made little room for complicating
analysis, let alone dissent. But improving social science itself is also important, and dramatic events help us to see where improvement is needed, as well as where we already have much to offer.
Sociology had a good deal to contribute to understanding September 11th. Recent work on networks could be applied to the mix of individuals, groups and states that made September 11th possible.
Charles Tilley, among others, quickly tried to show how this could work. Frame analysis and cultural interpretation could help us see the ways in which the events were being constructed, and how this
shaped responses. Interestingly, Immanuel Wallerstein took up this theme of the twin towers as metaphor, and the issue of cultural interpretation. Sociology was well equipped to address the many ways
in which the events were shaped by, and in turn shaped, migration patterns and policies. A less visible but significant start has been made in developing a sociology of philanthropy, voluntary action,
and charity. This was and is important in the analysis of how New York coped with the attacks, and, of course, the implications are broader. We have tools for looking at the patterns of inequality
involved, both domestically --- say in the linkage of government compensation of victims to their previous salaries rather than treating each citizen’s life as equally worthy --- and
internationally, where we see both the important roles of what relatively well-off young men in societies that offer them few opportunities, and the sustained response of broad populations for whom
globalization has not been an unalloyed good. But, at the same time, there are other issues which should be on the sociological agenda, and to which September 11th ought to impel more attention. The
organizations of communications and the media perhaps deserve pride of place. There is good sociological work on this, but it has been far from the center stage of the discipline, and in my very
opening remarks about the extent to which even an eyewitness’s construction of what he saw depends on the media, I tried to call attention to the importance of this. Public health deserves much more
attention. Again, building on a significant start in sociology, but overcoming some of the ways in which medical sociology has been compartmentalized in the discipline. The issues reach from questions
of homeland security and preparedness, say for anthrax or bioterrorism, to broader intersections of health and social organization, as an international problem, and I will refrain from asking why we
are not paying more attention to AIDS, which kills more people every day than died in the September 11th attacks. Public health concerns reach into another area about which sociology has had too
little to say --- the importance of infrastructure, the built environment of physical and socio-technical systems on which we depend. Think of all the complex systems on which modern societies are
based: transport, communications, water supply, power, and extended into finance and other markets. How well do we grasp their basic role or study their transformations, their aging and their
vulnerabilities? It is not a theme taken up in any introductory sociology text. Too much of our work on technology, for example, is seduced by the glamour of the new, and concentrated on processes of
innovation to the neglect of the implications of built infrastructure. Too much also seduced again by the glamour and excitement of technology forgets its inbuilt inequality. The reasons why there
might be a frizzle of excitement, when some others in the world to whom technology has not always been a friend, could say after September 11th, “Look, they made it work for us, not just for
them.” We also face a different kind of challenge from our very unequal knowledge of the world. We are too often tempted to false universality, based on strong knowledge of the U.S. and weak
knowledge of other settings. Think simply of how surprising even many students of the media found the discovery of Al Jazeera to be. In the early days of the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. media were
unable to get local reports and quickly became dependent on this transnational Arab Media Network, but Al Jazeera had its own history. It is, in part, the product of neo-liberalism and the decisions
to defund the British Broadcasting Corporations Arabic broadcasting service, setting free a trained group of broadcasters who then came to be based in the Emirates of Kahar, which produced an
effective Arabic language network. This reminds me of the extent to which there are multiple global networks of communication, not only the single one which is presented to us by CNN, and which is
incorporated in much of our talk of globalization. More generally, in recent years, there has been a good deal of attention to questions about how to understand the multiplicity of patterns of social
and cultural organization and identity of the world. Should we speak of civilizations and perhaps the clash of civilizations, or is the issue more a matter of Jihad versus the world? Should we use the
old language of tradition and modernity? Recall, for example, how important it seemed to politicians and newscasters to keep describing the Taliban, Al-Qaida and often Islamism in general as “the
evil.” Or, and my sympathies go in this direction, is it a question of multiple, often clashing projects of modernity where different cultural traditions and creativity are conjoined with different
aspirations and visions of what is desirable, or what is to be feared in the future? After all, Al-Qaida and George Bush inhabit the same time period, not somehow one an older and one a newer time.
But in the interest of time, let me stop, not proceeding with my own analysis of any of these aspects, but turning to the work of the other panelists. In parting, let me make just two final
observations on this. One is that there is no end to the range of competing narratives, the different accounts of what is going on into the world, into which the specific events of September 11th may
be fit. I do mean the competing narratives of different Americans, different eyewitnesses, different policymakers saying what the attacks of that day meant. I also mean the different narratives we
should construct as analysts, seeing how these matter in the middle east, or how they matter in central Asia, how they influence the situation in Pakistan and India and Indonesia, and so forth. There
are numerable narratives into which this story must be fit. Finally, let me stress also, the extent to which the multiplicity of perspectives is part of the reality. It is not just a question of
getting the truth right and finding out which one of these perspectives reveals that to us. What we are challenged to do as sociologists is to see how each of these different ways of understanding the
world contributes to the making of a complex and heterogenous reality. Stories of cyber terrorism, to stories about the invasion of privacy, to stories about Al-Qaida, and stories about the
international criminal court, to a host of stories, each deserving our attention, each in need of sociological analysis, each a matter of individual action, of institutions of political power and of
culture. Thank you. BARBARA RESKIN: Thank you very much Craig. For those of you who came in late, I want to call to your attention that Craig co-edited, orchestrated the collection of, and really did
play an important role in coediting two volumes understanding September 11th. They are both published I believe. There are fliers up in front, yes, hold up the other one, white and black. There are
flyers up in front for those of you who want to pick up a flyer to order one afterwards: “A Collection of Essays by Social Scientists Around the World.” Our second presentation, with whom I have
already introduced to you, is one of the authors of one of these essays, and I will just briefly say that this presentation is coming from Nilufer Gole, and she will go ahead and speak now. NILUFER
GOLE: I would like to thank Craig Calhoun and the ASA for inviting me to give this talk in your presence this evening. It is not always very easy to link 9/11 events with Islam or Islamism, even the
question of vocabulary is very problematic, but I think this is what I will try to attempt to do here. I would like to start with the problem or the increasing visibility of Islam in a global public
sphere. This is one of the unintended, I would say consequences, of 9/11, which is the increasing presence of Islam in the public debate. Islam, we can say, is gaining visibility in a transnational
global public sphere. Or, to put it differently, 9/11 brought, albeit unintentionally, Islam and the west closer. This will be maybe my main hypothesis and arguments. First of all, the terrorist
attack itself took place in a global public space. Maybe for the first time in history a terrorist event was being witnessed live, in real time, as a visual, magnificent experience, and by so many
people. It was experienced personally, simultaneously and globally by those situated in different locations, by western and nonwestern publics. Secondly, terrorist actors themselves were actors of
globalism. They were uprooted in terms of their social origins, de-territorialized, that is most of them had broken with their family and their country of origins. So 9/11 in this trait, the
de-territorial nature of Islamist action. These actors/terrorists were using two international languages, English and Arabic; studying, training and traveling in many different countries;
communicating through internet and cellular phones. They thought of themselves as only on one foot, as Muslims, not as citizens of their specific country. Yet, there is always this paradoxical link
between transnational nature of Islamist action and its link to international tribal or religious forms of relations. For instance, the common ethnic hastur background of Taliban, and these
transnational networking went together. Thirdly, 9/11 brought together the most distance and time, place and civilization, mainly United States and Afghanistan, closer. The juxtaposition of images
that we can recall from New York and Kabul created a kind of surreal yet an embarrassing collage. On the one hand, as Dean Howard put it, Americans tragically joined the rest of the world. The city of
New York was described in the Newspaper, in the New York Times, just like any other city in the third world: chaotic, crowded, and in ruins. On the other hand, Afghanistan, which was abundant to
premodern Taliban movement, entered into the stage of modern history with Bin Laden engineered terrorism. Fourth, interconnectivity between different national publics are intensified or new ones were
launched. The french newspaper, La Moyne, published articles in English from the New York Times. The Turkish Daily Radical systemically publishes, even today, in-translation selected articles of
opinions from different publics, both western and Muslim. Some of the experts or spokespersons of Islam circulates constantly among different national publics, and western languages are now familiar
with the Islamic Media. Jihad Fatwa are used in daily language and the books of Islam are entering into the mainstream book market. This panel is such as example as well. We can see that Islamic
studies also, which were limited to area studies, or oriental studies, religious studies, are also moving towards a mainstream sociological analysis. We can say, observe that Islam, which was
forgotten totally upon the literature of globalism, today becomes an active agent into circulation of ideas, commodities and people. Yet, globalized public doesn’t mean a consensual public. The
attacks of September 11th were condemned by many publics, including Muslim ones, but silently or overtly endorsed by some others, and not only by Muslim ones. So we have to understand, I would say,
this tacit endorsement, or disposition, towards the terrorist act. The majority of the arguments, which were vast, to understand the reasons of this tacit consent, were mainly explained into political
or economical terms. The anger of the victimized peoples was the main framework which helped to understand the Muslim anger against the west. But these arguments, which can also be summarized as Ben
Ladin is a product of American politics. Although they participate from this will of self-examination of the west, paradoxically ends up holding on to the view of a west centered world and attributing
full agency to the western powers. Thus dismissing the fact that attacks of September 11th attempted, even if only for a day, to reverse the roles, displacing power relations between the west and
Muslims, and turning Americans into victims, and creating a kind of empowerment among Muslims. Although, this was not verbally acknowledged, I think this tacit approval of the terrorist act, although
it doesn’t mean the endorsement of Islam’s radicalism, let alone Bin Laden’s terrorism, it contributed, I would argue, to the liberation of a collective Islamic imaginary. It is a new mapping of
the Islam’s collective imaginary, which was already taking place independently of national differences. Religious confessional divisions, which became more a pattern in the aftermath of September
11th. What I mean by this Islamic collective imaginary I can summarize what some of the sign posts, such as the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. The assassination of Anwar Sadat 1981, Khomeini’s
Fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989. The destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2001 and lately the attacks on America on September 11, 2001 can be considered as
designed paths in the making of an Islamic collective imaginary. It transcends national frontiers and religious distinctions between Sunni and Shiite Islam. It conquers social imaginaries, both in
Muslim majority and Muslim minority contexts. I refer it as an imaginary, not as an ideology, because it is less rigid than ideology, more plastic. It infiltrates into social life rather than
restricted to political structure. As the concept imaginary evokes, it operates through visual icons rather than discussive practices. These offensive micro acts, seemingly isolated in time and space,
constitute a political or rather meta-political icon which has a religious reverberation. For instance the call for the application of Sharia Islamic religious law during the Iranian Islamic
revolution or the call for Jihad after 9/11. But also the blasphemy as in the case of the satanic verses or the idolatry as in the case of Buddha statues. The collective Islamic repertoire is reminded
through these acts. The religious hexagon is used, and more exactly misused, to give meaning to these offensive practices, as well as to revive the collective Islamic repertoire, a sense of community
that is the Ummah. But these religious notions, as noted by many educated people of religion, aren’t contextualized. They are totally hijacked by these self-proclaimed activists. They were cut off
from their traditional religious meanings in the absence of a centralized hierarchy, It's a construct in a modern context. A closer look to 9/11 will illustrate this point. The call for Jihad means
making an effort on the path of God, ranging both from a war or a military sense, to a more mortal version encompassing individual effort and community improvement. Martyrdom is associated with a
warrior interpretation of Jihad and a devotion to the community’s defense. However, the suicide attacks on 9/11 injects a noble interpretation of Martyrdom into Muslim imaginary. There is no defense
of community but a status to be achieved by the individual warrior. Therefore, Martyrdom blending into a kind of neoism. As we see new Islamic imaginaries are hybrid constucts. We can say that in
examining 9/11 terrorists are both Muslim and modern, or more precisely, neither Muslim in the traditional sense, nor modern in the western enlightenment sense, but for sure the question of Islam and
modernity is at stake. In contrary to the position to the thesis of cultural civilizations, or huntington, which is based on distance and difference between two civilizations, I would argue, that on
the contrary, it is the proximity and similarity which is at the original anxiety, anger and confrontation. Another point of similarity, proximity we have seen in time and space through this
globalized nature/feature of Islamist action, but also similarity of profiles between the victims and the terrorists of 9/11 should be mentioned. Same generation, high tech education, although life
stories of victims suggest that in their average they were less specialized in their high tech education than the terrorist, but the similarity tells about the pneumatic desire of Muslims in relation
to modernity. I would say Muslims in general, and Islamists in particular, are ambivalent of their experience of modernity. There is a pneumatic desire with modernity, yet fear of sameness. It is this
fear of sameness, similarity, which creates, I would argue, the problem for the contemporary Muslim world. Modern society is a society of uniformization and homogenizational experience. Equality is an
unintentional consequence of creating twin life sameness. The disappearance of hierarchies and frontiers between men and women, between the cultural and the natural, are at stake. Gender issues and
women are at the center of these transformations. The differences between culture and the natural in private and in public, feminine and the masculine are blurred. The interchangeability of roles
clothes and spaces, private and public between men and women, is at work in a modern society. Today’s modern world values cherishes borrowings. Multiplicity of identities. Modernity spreads out
globally, becomes a moral of reference by selection, contamination, multiplication and cloning, as in the case of the twin towers. That is why also the question of women is so central for Islamist
politics. Because Islamist failing is a reminder of difference, of hierarchy’s between sexes, between interior and the public sphere, between secular and religious values, between Islam and
modernity. However, Islamic women also enter into public life, become active members of the political movement, have access to higher education and pursue professional careers. They are hybrid as
well. They are veiled, yet becoming more and more public. Islamist terrorism expresses the fear against hybridity and the search for purity. The testimony of the terrorist Mohammed Atta demonstrates
well the fanatical fear of impurity contaminated by women. As he noted, “I do not want any women to go to my funeral, or later to my grave,” he would say. I would suggest that 9/11 was conducted
by two main actors of Islamist radicalism, by the presence of Islamist engineers in the front stage but also by the seclusion and absence of Islamic women in the back stage. The lines between Taliban
movements, the most radical in banning women’s presence in public life, and Bin Laden engineered terrorism, illustrates that the quest for Islamic purity implies separation, both from modernity and
from women. For Muslims, coming to terms with modernity is coming to terms with women. There can be no understanding of modernity without the recognition of women. Therefore, a complete indigenous
experience of modernity needs to be acknowledged by Muslims themselves. Modernity is becoming part of their experience. It is becoming an intrinsic value to their daily lives, yet they fear this
proximity and sameness. But modernity also needs to be revisited by the westerners who still hold to mono-civilization definitions of modernity, equating it with the superiority of western values and
experience. In that sense, as Craig Calhoun suggested, science is challenged by sometimes tragic events. The dialogical relation between Islam and the west requires a new universal framework of
modernity, and sociologists are the main candidates for such an agenda. Thank you. BARBARA RESKIN: Thank you very much. Our third speaker is Timur Kuran, who is the King Faisal Professor of Islamic
Thought and Culture at the University of Southern California, and a professor of Economics and Law. His research focuses on the interaction between social values and beliefs on the one hand, and
economic and political outcomes on the other hand. He has also written numerous articles on Islamic economic history and modern Islamic economic movements. TIMUR KURAN: Thanks to the ASA for
organizing this session. I want to deal, in the time I have, with the dimension of the 9/11 tragedy that receives, I think, insufficient attention in the media and in our discussions about the
tragedy. My talk is entitled “The Religious Undertow of Muslim Economic Grievances.” Since September 11th we have been hearing the economic underdevelopment of the Islamic world explains why so
many Muslims appear angry at the United States. It is said that economic globalization has harmed much of the Islamic world, generating resentment. That many middle easterners have misgivings about
globalization is not a figment of imagination. Globalization has disrupted lifestyles and fueled anti-globalism everywhere, even in the world’s leading economies. It is hardly surprising that
anti-globalists exist also in Cairo and Caroche, not to mention the Egyptian and Pakistani hinterlands. But by and large, the anti-globalism observed in the Middle East is less a considered expression
of opposition to modern capitalism then it is a cry of desperation. Middle easterners in possession of skills that allow them to compete in the global economy, when given opportunities to participate
in that economy as equals, usually prefer peaceful production to hateful destruction. The West Bank crowds that danced in the streets on September 11th consisted overwhelmingly of people who cannot
compete in the global economy. It stands to reason that the existence of middle eastern mired in poverty makes it easier to find recruits for anti-American missions, so a lasting solution the global
conflict that September 11th symbolizes requires a commitment to alleviating poverty and despair in the middle east. The establishment of the Afghanistan reconstruction fund is a good first step, but
by itself it won’t provide a permanent solution anymore than the billions showered on Africa in the 1960’s made Africa prosperous. Poverty trapped middle easterners won’t develop hope in the
future until the U.S. and Europe lift their existing barriers to the industrial and agricultural exports of the Islamic countries, especially the poorest of those countries. September 11th suggests
that such a move would serve more than compassion; it is in the developed world’s interests. Yet the world’s current political instability, at least the ongoing conflicts involving the Islamic
world, will not end simply by cushioning the Middle East against the economic disruptions of globalization and alleviating its poverty. It is highly doubtful that the political problems will respond
to economic incentives alone. After all, the hijackers of 9/11 were not all unemployed people lacking marketable skills. Some had college degrees, others were college students. What motivated these
educated hijackers was not material depravation, but an all-consuming ideology that turned understandable resentments into a mission to change the world. They were not just Arabs, they were not just
Muslim-Arabs. They were also Islamists, also known as Islamic fundamentalists, pursuing goals they considered higher than life itself. The difference is critical. Most Muslims are not committed to
radical global transformation. These Islamists were. So what is Islamism? Islamists believe that a good Muslim is someone who leads a distinctly Islamic way of life. They believe that one’s entire
existence must be governed by Islamic rules, family, dress, politics, economics and more. Moreover, in every context, they believe, there is a clear demarcation between Islamic and un-Islamic
behaviors. Now to anyone familiar with the Islamist literature, this will sound absurd. Except on a few ritualistic matters, Islamists disagree among themselves on what Islam describes. Pick up a
random sample of literature on a topic and language of your choice and you will find much debate. Nevertheless, Islamists have been taught to dismiss their disagreements as minor and to expect the
speedy emergence of a consensus about the Islamic way of life. The march of history, Islamists are also trained to believe, is going their way. The predecessors have predicted that capitalism and
communism, the two major economic systems of the modern era, were doomed to fail because in different ways they both bread injustice, inequity and inefficiency. One part of this prediction has already
been borne out. Communism collapsed in 1991. Islamists writings remind us incessantly that Islamists had never put faith in central planning or in godless communist dictatorships. Now it is the turn
of capitalism, they say, which will collapse when someone exposes its vulnerability. The global economy being interconnected. If you destroy one component, panic will bring down the rest. What
Islamists offer as an improvement is an Islamic economic system which would have three distinguishing components: An Islamic banking system that avoids interest, an Islamic redistribution system based
on principles of sharing and equity found in the Koran, or for that matter in the texts of other great religions, and third a set of behavioral norms to ensure trust, fairness, honesty and cooperation
in the marketplace. Given the complexities of a modern economy, this list seems terribly truncated. Will the system have a central bank? What sorts of contracts will its courts enforce? How will it
deal with externalities like water pollution. There are many other such questions one could ask. In fact, substantively there is not much more to Islamic economics. The Islamic elements of the planned
economic revolution do not go much beyond these elements. There have been economic Islamization programs in several countries, notably Sudan, Pakistan and Iran. Not surprisingly, none of these
programs have stimulated economic growth or reduced inequalities. None are considered successful, even by the Islamists themselves. Islamists writers rationalize these disappointments by arguing that
no proper Islamic economy can exist until the entire world is cleansed of corruption. Now one might ask why anyone should believe in the viability of the proposed economic agenda if there are no
examples of successful implementation. One can go further. The corruption that Islamists complain about is partly a consequence of inflexible Islamic laws that stimulated, through unintended
mechanisms over many centuries, a culture of corruption. Over many centuries, because of institutional rigidities, people got accustomed to circumventing rules. What is needed therefore is more
economic modernization, including legal reforms and a bit of patience, not the revival of a superseded legal system. But within the Islamist mindset, the observed failures establish merely the need to
accelerate Islamization. Today, so goes the argument, the principle form of corruption is westernization, and its chief instrument is the United States, which poisons humanity through Hollywood and
props up dictatorships. This tendency to blame outside forces for local failures and shortcomings is not limited to terrorists of the 9/11 mold. Peaceful Islamists also attribute domestic problems to
outside influences. So do impeccably secular leaders. This focus on what is done to the Islamic world, and the paucity of free discussion on internal problems, fosters an intellectual climate that
enables violent groups to justify their destructiveness as essential to ridding the world of evil and building an Islamic Utopia. So the economic grievances that contribute to Muslim resentment of the
global economic order have an unmistakable cultural and specifically religious dimension. The anger against the U.S. is propelled by more than poverty. It is driven also by a vision that treats a
certain narrow interpretation of Islam as the answer to existing problems, and attributes all failures to non-Islamic influences. Never mind that the vision has not produced tangible benefits, and
that most of the worlds Muslims reject it at least privately. Enough people take the vision seriously and defend it publicly to make it a global problem. And never mind that Islam has a fabulously
rich history, that it has harbored many competing visions, and that it has shown remarkable flexibility in certain periods, that in its days of glory it borrowed from other cultures as a matter of
course. What matters to today’s crisis is that some people who have become very influential are promoting, spreading and acting on a very different vision of Islam. If follows once again that the
solution to the current world crisis must involve more than economic policies designed to improve living standards in the Afghan countryside, Islam’s of Caroche, or the West Bank. Equally critical
are policies aimed at cultural repair. A lasting solution will require intellectual movements that draw attention to the virtues of a global economy and the opportunities it presents, and emphasizes
the culturally open and flexible traditions within Islamic history. If Islamism is eventually marginalized, the top leadership will come, of course, from within the Islamic world, but outsiders will
have an impact on the course of events. The chances of marginalizing isolationist, backward looking and even anti-western forms of Islamism will increase, I would suggest if intellectuals were to
abandon the relativist strains of modern multiculturalism. All major cultures, including those associated with Islam, offer much that is valuable and instructive, but they are not equally successful
at equipping their members with economically valuable skills. Whatever other comforts Islamism gives its adherence, and there certainly are some, it is not the whole answer to the challenges of
economic underdevelopment. In fact, some of its variance, including those of the Taliban and that of the Iranian theocracy, have been positively harmful to material prosperity. The laudable goals of
cherishing the achievements of diverse cultures and respecting cultural differences is entirely compatible with acknowledging failures, dead ends and dangers where they are noticed. These goals are
also compatible with questioning the assumptions that underlie a movement’s agenda. The economic elements of the Islamist agenda are based on assumptions whose historical accuracy is doubtful. For a
very elementary example, Islamists say the concept of a distinctly Islamic system has existed since the rise of Islam fourteen centuries ago. In fact, the notion that Islam offers a workable and
flawless economic system is a recent creation. The term “Islamic economics” emerged not fourteen centuries ago, but only in the 1940’s during the debates that preceded India’s independence. At
the time, Muslim Indians were discussing whether the key element of their communal identity was their faith or their nationality. Some Muslim leaders favored remaining within India as Indians; others
proposed that to be a Muslim was to live differently from Hindus and westerns, so Muslims needed institutions of their own. To substantiate these views, they undertook to show that Islam offers
distinct prescriptions in all domains of life, including economics. Concepts such as Islamic economists and Islamic banking emerged in the course of those efforts. In brief, the tradition of Islamic
economics is not nearly as old as its promoters have been led to believe. It was invented to support the project that came to be known as Pakistan. Since that time, certain weak governments, including
ones run by secular Muslims, have had their own reasons to support Islamist efforts to define, articulate, and where necessary, invent an Islamic way of life. To stay in power they have trumpeted
their Islamic virtues by supporting Islamist pet projects. Oil rich Arab monarchies that enjoy little genuine legitimacy have bankrolled Islamic universities in numerous countries, sponsored
conferences on the Islamization of knowledge, and built institutes to drain Islamic bankers. Pakistani leaders known to have a low opinion of Islamic economics, and aware that it does not
revolutionize any real economy, that a modern economy is too complex to be based on a few simple institutions modeled after the simplicity of an ancient economy, have paid lip service to the ideal of
economic Islamization. They have also supported a ban on non-Islamic forms of banking and founded an Islamic redistribution system. I have raised these points to propose, as I end my remarks, that the
current Islamist hegemony over defining the social and economic content of Islam is less secure than the prevailing public discourse in the Islamic world might suggest. Insofar as support for
Islamization is driven by political expediency or identity related concerns, it is feigned and shallow. Just as seemingly unshakable communist regimes fell like houses of cards once their
vulnerability was exposed, so Islamist regimes, movements and programs may lose their existing public appeal once they encounter intellectual opposition. There are plenty of signs that Islamist
support is generally quite limited. I will mention just a few, in ending my remarks. First, in Pakistan, the army is far more successful at organizing noisy street protests where social pressures
drive up participation, than at winning support in elections where voting is by secret ballots. A second example as the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan began there were predictions that it would
prove difficult to seize Kabul yet Kabul fell quickly largely because it residents turned on the Taliban as soon as they got wind of its vulnerability. Evidently millions of Afghan parents want their
children to get modern educations, to join the world economy, and to enjoy the material rewards of global civilization. They had not accepted the Taliban’s priorities. Third as in other parts of the
underdeveloped world a large share of the population would, population in the Middle East at least and more specifically in the Arab world, would emigrate to Western Europe or North America if they
could. The recently released Arab development report made a point of this and offered some evidence to this effect. This does not prove that most Middle Easterners or most Arabs want to live
Americanized or Europeanized lives. It does show that they care enough about material wealth to be willing to endure cultural changes for the sake of greater prosperity. They are not as committed as
Islam is to some sense of cultural purity. And finally where Islamic banks and conventional banks coexist the vast majority of the savers and the depositors favor conventional banks even though the
returns are quite similar. For example the market shares of Islamic banks are on the order of 1 to 2% in Turkey, Tunisia, and Malaysia, three of the most developed countries of the Islamic world. We
have evidence here that many Muslims do not accept the Islamist claim that to be good Muslim requires leading an Islamic lifestyle in every domain. Thank you. BARBARA RESKIN: Thank you. Our final
speaker is Professor Neil Smelser. He is past president of the American Sociological Association. He recently stepped down as Director of the Center for Advanced Studies of Behavioral Sciences in Palo
Alto. He is professor emeritus University of California at Berkley but he has hardly stopped being and active sociologist. He is currently chairing a National Research Council panel on --- woops,
social, I missed my line, I am sorry--- social behavioral institutional issues in terrorism and his talk tonight is going to be on “Terrorism as Cultural Trauma.” Thank you NEIL SMELSER: Thank you
very much. I would like to begin by saying that the idea of cultural trauma has in the past decade or two spread through a number of humanistic and social science disciplines including history,
literary criticism, anthropology and sociology as well as psychology. The idea of cultural trauma is derived by analogy of course with psychological trauma and most of its applications have been too
obvious historical events of ethnic cleansing, the holocaust, of wars, of dislocations and so on and so forth. And that the general characteristics of cultural trauma have come to be fairly well
understood. I was part of working group at the center several years ago with Jeff Alexander and several other European --- several European scholars and what I would like to do really in an
exploratory way is to apply some of the logic of cultural trauma to the events of September 11. But I would also like to say something about the uniqueness of this trauma in the context of American
society. I think it is really very easy to establish the traumatic character of September 11th in a kind of text book way. I mean the sheer drama, the military ingenuity, the kind of shock of it is an
obvious element and in addition were singled out the two most salient symbols of American dominated global capitalism and the single most visible symbol of American military domination. And these were
not lost either on those being attacked, the country being attacked nor the attackers as well as their sympathetic audiences. The symbolic significance was lost on no one and the events were elevated
almost immediately to a near sacred status which I will explain later. Almost in conformity with this perfect script the events were appreciated almost immediately by the American population as one of
the greatest traumas in history. Comparisons were made with the most immediately available event Pearl Harbor almost exactly 60 years earlier. But most people refused to compare September 11th with
anything uniquely shocking and horrible as its immediate effects were. In the months following the attacks statesmen, historians, politicians, and people in the street uttered variations of the
sentiment that the country will never be the same and that both reverberation of the tragic events and the aggressive war on terrorism will be without end. It seemed to fit Jeffery Alexander’s
formal definition of a cultural trauma. “When members of a collectivity feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves indelible marks upon their group consciousness, marking their
memories forever, and changing their future identity in fundamental an irrevocable ways.” Very quickly I elaborate these specific traumatic elements. First an initial reaction of shock, disbelief,
and emotional numbing. We have first hand and empirical evidence from ---- from Craig Calhoun’s observation. Second many other affective and collective behavior reactions also evident in major
disasters, fear, anxiety, terror, and some evidence of mental disturbance in a small number of people. Third wide spread collective mourning both spontaneous and officially scheduled with a level of
emotionality perhaps unprecedented in a nation not especially known for its emotional openness. It focused on the victims of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon but more on the policemen and
firemen who lost their lives while carrying out rescue activities. There was a profound idolization of the latter; especially the New York Fire Department who status as heroes became soon firmly fixed
as other military heroes in the nation’s history. I will return to this positive aspect a little bit later. Fourth an immediate sense of the indelibility of the trauma. There were widespread
feelings that the year 2001 was a scarred or ruined year. The world must be regarded as having a pre-September 11th and post September 11th reality. Part of the indelibility was the widespread feeling
that the events were not only never to be forgotten but that we would not be able to forget them and I am confident that this social psychology will endure in significant ways. Fifth and closely
related to unforgetability is a sense of national brooding over the events. A kind of repetition compulsion that generates something like a feeling of illegitimate guilt if we do not attend to the
memories and their meanings. This also has a positive side I will talk about soon. Sixth a collective endowment of the events with a sacred character, not in any specific religious sense of the term,
but a general recognition that they stand as a monumental instance in the history of the nation. The people who visited ground zero in downtown Manhattan over the months, and I was among them, have
come to resemble pilgrims hoping to catch a glimpse of something, they know not what, that will give more connectiveness and concreteness and vividness to things. The hundreds of letters of support,
hats, t-shirts, and other paraphernalia hanging on the construction fences were like so many relics reminiscent of symbolic objects or graffiti on or near the Berlin wall when it was standing. Seventh
the emergence of deliberate efforts to remember the events collectively through ceremonies, public observation anniversaries, and the erection of monuments. Eighth sustained public interest in the
remembering process. We have seen that from the very beginning and we see it right to the very day when there is the huge controversies and contestations over remembering the World Trade Center
perfectly and the different vested interests all over the place in this collective effort. Ninth a culminating sense that American identity had been altered fundamentally, wounded perhaps, sobered,
and strengthened. A sentiment America is a better place to live in after September 11th but in all of that spark permanently. Well so much for a recitation of these text book aspects of cultural
trauma as we have come to understand them. But I would like to dedicate the remainder of my remarks to the proposition that the country responded in a way that was specific to its own cultural
traditions and character and if this event or a similar event had happened in another settings we would have a rather different kind of collective reaction. I would emphasize in particular the notions
of solidarity, national mobilization, revenge, and glory. We in all--- we are all familiar with welling up of community solidarity that was recorded in the wake of many --- that is recorded in the
wake of many community disasters as people pull together to rescue victims, to comfort survivors, to rebuild what has been lost and September 11th was obviously no exception it was an extraordinary
response. The burst of solidarity was not confined to the sites of the attacks in New York and Washington but was a national response. There was an outpouring of sympathy to the cities effected. We
all read that we are all New Yorkers. It included a sense that every citizen was affected equally and was equal to all other citizens under adversity and threat. It included feelings of well being
toward other fellow citizens. It was said that New Yorkers are nicer than they used to be which I regard as a significant if true, significant sociological accomplishment. There was also a temporary
blip upward in peoples trust to other groups, Muslim Americans excepted, and trust in political authorities and community leaders. There was also a remarkable setting aside of ---- temporary setting
aside of divisiveness. There was this temporary forgetting of such deep conflicts as the controversial Florida election which left the Bush presidency under a shadow of quasi legitimacy and which is
now only returning. We have the seventy five percent of support of George W. Bush by African Americans who had only given him ten percent of their votes less than a year before. There was very little
opposition to the national efforts to mobilize. Some Muslim American voices said that America would not have been attacked in this way if it had not supported Israel in the way that it had over the
years and from the left came somewhat muted sense of that the American economic and imperialist policies had brought the attack upon ourselves. But these were very, very, subdued in the months after
the events. Strong patriotic sentiments were part of the picture. The American flag was universally displayed which was a baffling and alarming scene to some foreign witnesses who imagined the
negative side of what these displays might have meant in their own countries. More than one observer has noted that Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December of 2001 resembled the 4th of July
in their symbolism and national spirits. There was an addition in outpouring of support for those heroes and there was certainly a more or less immediate demonization of the attackers. They were----
there was evidence of some national support through the efforts of children’s mailings of dollars of relief for families killed, the scientific community coming forward offering their help and so on
and there was this as I say a kind of more positive kind of pulling together celebrative quality about the whole thing so that September 11th cast catastrophe really unfolded as a fully ambivalent
event. It was shocking and fascinating, depressing and exhilarating, grotesque and beautiful, sullying and cleansing, and leaving the country feeling both good and bad about itself. It was a trauma to
be sure but one with this rare historical twist. In the few moments that remain I would simply like to identify a few primordial American themes that got mobilized around the reaction to September
11th and the months that followed. This is to be expected that no such event can occur without being immediately assimilated to the understandings and traditions and cultural values of the society in
which it has occurred. Looking at the American reaction to September 11th one is compelled to notice a certain old fashioned quality, reassertion of the virtues of nation and community, unashamed flag
waving patriotism, a feeling that we as Americans were under attack. That we were one again --- a feeling of pride in the American way of life, its values, its culture, its democracy. And for a
moment, how long a moment it cannot be imagined, the themes of the 1980s and 1990s that had preoccupied the intellectual press, spokes persons for minority groups and identity movements and some
academics seemed to recede into the background as so many cultural luxuries. I refer to the themes of multiculturalism, of politics of identity, primordial group conflicts, and the relativism of post
modernism, all asserting in their own ways a lack of common values and national and cultural unity. The eclipse of these divisive elements was not and cannot be considered permanent. We see them
returning already in various forms. None the less there was this remarkable covering over. This effect should not--- should not be surprising. It was the nation that was attacked; it was the national
values often latent that---- except for expression on ritual occasions, that rose to salience. I don’t judge the healthiness or unhealthiness of this response. But simply record it. Furthermore we
should not put out of mind that there----- that episodes of extreme national fear and unity always have their darker potential. The beauty of political opposition sometimes self imposed, scape goating
of internal minority groups thought to be dangerous or somehow other linked and the compromise of civil liberties in the name of vigilance and security, all of which are before us in one way or
another. The four themes that were especially marked in the reaction to September 11th had to do with the mobilization of a kind of primordial revenge in American society even though we were not quite
certain exactly toward which this ought to be directed. It’s very interesting to me to go back and reread the book “An Keep Your Powder Dry” by Margaret Mead written in 1942 after Pearl Harbor.
In which she in a way said that the Japanese had in a way done the society a favor by attacking it. By mobilizing it around and completely legitimizing a really violent vengeful unified expression of
aggression and destructiveness against them about which the society has always been somewhat uneasy. If you go through the history of wars in the United States and the degree to which they are
considered to be popular and unpopular wars, one of the constant themes that run through these is that the degree to which the United States has been responsible for unprovoked aggression and that
runs through all of them. And of course the darkest of all were the Vietnamese War in which we found guilty. Now here was a case in which we were unequivocally victims and mobilization could be-----
mobilization could be without guilt and could be complete. Second theme was---- I have already mentioned, was a kind of primordial patriotism that the country has been known for, so I will say no more
about that. The third is a kind of dualistic response that is a part of our own tradition---- moral orientation that from tocqueville has been mentioned as part of an American --- of American ---
character. A moralism of --- a moralism of politics, a moralism of life in a way, uh no doubt linked to the theme of cultural guilt about aggression that I’ve mentioned. Certainly the reactions to
the leaders of the country express this dualism. The talk of the administration which offended many people and it’s cowboy character in good and evil and so on, none the less has to be acknowledged
to have touched a --- a uh--- a particular cultural thread in American society. Fourth element was the idea of instrumentalism which is central to American view is that we mobilize and do something we
can--- we can--- we can get rid of this threat, or we can use science technology, this is somehow or another a job to be done with which we have approached many wars and of course which has its
limitations particularly when we don’t know exactly what that job is. So my final observation or summary observation is that in trying to make explicit these several cultural elements in the
American context is to throw light on the fact that with all the apparent paradox September 11th constituted simultaneously a serious cultural trauma, a burst of national unity, a reaffirmation of
Americanism, a substantial national mobilization, a righteous mission, and a cause for celebration. Thank you very much. BARBARA RESKIN: What we are going to do now, we have about a little over 20
minutes left for discussion and because this is the only mic we are going in sequence in the same order that people presented I would like you to address questions to them. So the first four and a
half, five minutes to Craig. For those of you in the back please speak as loudly as you can so people up front can hear you and if it turns--- if some of you have questions that you would like to
address to all panelist then let’s hold them and I will save a couple of minutes at the end. So I am going to call each of these sets of questions for each speaker to a halt after about four and a
half minutes so there will be time incase a few of you want to address questions to the entire panel. So--- Craigs on. CRAIG CALHOUN: Okay we are bound by the microphone we will follow Barbara’s
procedure that she’s laid out. AUDIENCE QUESTION: CRAIG CALHOUN: The question is; Aare war and terrorism the same thing? And I believe she thought she heard me say they were. I would like to say no.
I did suggest in a series that there were a variety of different frames, one of the things that started instantly, while the towers were still standing before they had even fallen, was the offering of
a variety of ways of framing and defining these events and saying what they were. Uh--- there was for several hours not a consensual frame and after---only a few hours the idea that this was “an
attack on America” and that this was war became the dominant frames and I was merely trying to evoke that what went on was the making of declarations. Some people saying this is terrorism, some
people saying this is war, some people saying that this is just a human tragedy, that there were a series of different ways of constructing what events meant and that even people’s memories of them
from very close up were shaped by the way those frames work. Let me just take war for a moment. The idea that this was war is at one level extraordinary idea. You remark on the way in which war might
be understood as a long term protractive combat moving across territory and so forth, that’s certainly true. In another sense though members of Al-Qaeda had been declaring war on the United States
for years and the United States response had been, you are not an entity that can declare war on us. You don’t have the standing of a state to declare war. So one of the extraordinary things about
the embrace of the idea that this was war which did become a very dominant frame for this in the United States including especially the government war on terrorism. One of the effects of that frame
was to legitimate the opponent as the sort of body that could declare war that could be the other to the United States in this sort of struggle and that’s I think unfortunate, for example, by
comparison to see this as a criminal act or other ways of framing this that were not legitimated those first days. AUDIENCE QUESTION CRAIG CALHOUN: Did everybody hear the question okay? Okay. The ---
I think in a general way this is clearly “manufactured” or we can say constructed or something, but I would not extend that to say by contrast to real. I don’t think that we could say something
like it was in some sense not real because there were so many actors engaged in this constructing and manufacturing. Secondly, I don’t think that should be seen as overly conscious. There are a
variety of conscious elements in it but part of what went on with the media goes on in these sorts of framing more generally is that there is a whole production system in place that has various
effects, which may not cumulatively be intended in the good old Thomas sense. And thirdly, I would not suggest, I would not subscribe to the idea that this was all as it were manufacturing here and
not shaped by the initial events. That is I think the cinematic quality of the events, the timing of them as people were arriving at work but as a it would develop during the course of the day and be
available for news during that day and on into the evening and so forth. There are a variety in which the making of the cultural trauma is shaped by the media and the availability of the media, the
saturation of this in the United States. It can happen all over the country simultaneously. It can happen internationally as Nilufer Gole said, this is important. It’s made possible by the very
nature of this. Nilufer also referred to the idea that this was the first time in which this kind of act of terrorism had this sort of mediatic quality and I think that that’s true. It unfolded in a
cinematic fashion, it was very visual. It made memorable images. Now that’s part of a--- if you will in your phrase a manufacturing of it but I wouldn’t therefore say it was somehow manufactured
rather than real. This is the process by which it became general throughout an experiencing population. And oh I ---I let me just say one thing in closing Barbara. And yes it has become the bases for
dramatic institutional changes for, I didn’t go into this here and I have in the book but it---- for an extraordinary rewriting of practices regarding things like civil rights, and the protection of
privacy, and the nature of search, and the way in which we will incarcerate people without making public announcements. A whole series of legal changes in the United States are quite dramatic. The
securitization of international discourse. So that the discourse about something like what should be the regulations governing the internet internationally is now mainly a security discourse,
secondarily an economic discourse, and then other sorts of possible virtues of the internet way down the line in this. There are a whole series of ways in which this is deeply transformative. I
absolutely adhere to that. BARBARA RESKIN: Okay a couple of questions for Nilufer now, I think we probably have time for two or three questions per panelist at the rate we are going, so whoever is
ready, again speak up. The last panelist, the last question was nice and loud. AUDIENCE QUESTION NILUFER GOLE: Well these comments are well taken. No. These were comments defending the media justly so
that it’s not just a manufactured reality but it was part of the real life not only in New York but in other cities as well. This cultural trauma in a sense it was really shared although in
different publics differently. AUDIENCE COMMENT NILUFER GOLE: Yes—we-- I read it myself and I quoted it so. AUDIENCE COMMENT: BARBARA RESKIN: Thank you. AUDIENCE QUESTION: NILUFER GOLE: I think the
question of women as the way you mention it is well taken but I would say the –the-uh-the women were really endorsing a kind or role in the –the-Al-Qaida movement or in other cases of Jihad
situation is a traditional , uh traditional setting. The one I am referring at is much more on Islamist side. Those woman were participating into the Islamist movement, those who are yet veiled who
has access to high education and who are making part of militant activism in Islam. This really I would say the first militant of Islam because the first contemporary stance movement has seen for the
first time maybe witnessed Islamist activism by a woman. This is a new phenomena and it’s not just a kind of following man or just following the orders making it more obligation by man and the
families. But these women are now at the pivotal point in Islamist movement. Either they are acknowledged in their new public presence or put aside. I would say the Taliban movement is the one which
is not a traditional movement; it is making part of the Islamist movement as well. And we have seen that women were banned from the public sphere, totally, so that’s what I meant in relation to
Islamist terrorism. In a way Islamist terrorism if my hypothesis is true, meaning that Islamist terrorism here reveals this kind of difficult relation between Islam and modernity, not that of distance
and difference but proximity. In that respect I join also your point of indignity question. The question of dignity arises when Islam makes part of the modern world and modernity has some kind of a
lived experience in their daily practices but yet they are deprived of it in terms of giving meaning to these practices or even in terms of making it more, I would say, indigenous in their own
practices. So in that respect the question of dignity is there but not the way you have put it I would say. AUDIENCE QUESTION NILUFER GOLE: I think westernization and modernization were identified at
the beginning of the century but today what we can see in a global context is that there is a kind of distance between the western experience of modernity and modernity spreading out in different
contexts, cultural and religious. In that respect I would say what Muslims are experiencing today is not just modernization as a voluntary project or as colonization, but something which is making
part of their indigenous practices. So it is --- we are used always to make analysis of modernity from the western centered analysis. I think we have to de-center this point of view and understand
that modernity is making part of different cultural experiences and we don’t know yet how to name these competing multi—uh—multidimensional narratives of modernity. So I don’t think that the
question is what modernity has given to these populations, but how these populations make a kind of appropriate modernity and give meaning to these practices between their self and modernity. The
problem is --- I mean the question of identity and modernity didn’t create this problem, conflictual problem in the west whereas in the non-western context self and modernity is much more
problematic to build up. Thank you. BARBARA RESKIN: A couple of questions for Timur Kuran. Any questions or comments for him? AUDIENCE QUESTIONS TIMUR KURAN: Okay the question is how closely does the
Islamic economic system reflect Islam? How faithful is it to the principles of the religion. I would argue that it is not ----uh—it is not faithful to the principles of the system. The ---- if you
look at the evolution of economic institutions of the first two centuries of Islam you see a great deal of flexibility, tremendous openness to Persian culture, Byzantine culture, the Roman
institutions, a willingness to accept them, to synthesize these institutions and to produce something superior and this accounted for the very great successes of the early Arab Empires and these
successes then continued to ---uh under later states as well. The Islamic economists of today, the people who are promoting Islamic economics do not see that process. They have identified certain
symbols and they have made that essence of what Islam has to offer uh in an economic sense. I will just give one example in the interest of time. The interest controversy. Uh Islamic economists argue
that what the very basic elements of any Islamic economy, proper Islamic economy, has to be a ban on interest. Ban on all forms of interest. Now there has not been a single state run by Muslims in the
past fourteen centuries that has been run on and interest free basis. The notion of --- the notion that the Koran bans interest was a source of controversy from the beginning, many people did not
accept it and there are long periods in Islamic history when interest was accepted as legitimate within bounds and when the Islamic courts the Sharia courts would enforce interest based contracts. For
example in the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is a period when it was quite strong holding its own in Europe, advancing in the Middle East. During this time interest was
treated as legal, interest based contracts were enforced in the courts, in the Islamic courts provided the rate of interest was not above 20% okay. So Islamic economist today are ignoring this complex
reality and are spending enormous energies on this one objective which is of any case not achievable. BARBARA RESKIN: Other question? AUDIENCE QUESTION: TIMUR KURAN: You are absolutely right. The
cultural issues have been primary. However movements that wanted to come to power. Wanted to share power have felt the need to offer an economic program that would compete with the economic programs
of the groups in power. They’ve the need also to distinguish their program from those of others and this is why I think there is such an obsession with certain symbols and so little substance to
these programs. Now uh with respect to the – you mentioned Iran the Ayatollah Khomeini had before he came to power he made certain economic promises and gave certain contradictories somewhat
inconsistent hints about what he would do once he came to power but it’s very interesting a year after he his return to Tehran he was in power, there’s a meeting that he held and there were about
200,000 Iranians that started chanting that they wanted to see the economic results of the revolution and he had been talking to them about gender issues and exactly what the issues that you
mentioned, dignity and the arrogance of the west and relations with the United States, the hostages still were in Iran, and he went into pensive mood and took about a minute to answer and then his
answer was very brief. He said this revolution was not made to make watermelons more plentiful. And that summed it up and then he went on to another issue. Yes---- in some of his later writings he
said yes we would like to build a prosperous society, we would like Iran to be prosperous but what’s most important is that we attain our cultural goals and the rest will follow and a way will be
found. BARBARA RESKIN: Okay fine---- finally questions for Neil the last panelist. Go ahead while he walks up you can start shouting. AUDIENCE QUESTION: NEIL SMELSER: I would be happy to acknowledge
that what you said fit my analysis. The common thread -- common thread –and I don’t want to make too much of the ground zero language and its reference to Japan, but the reason that ---that Pearl
Harbor was evoked as the first comparison was first on the logic of attack and it was an attack on the nation and the fact that military instillations where civilian would not the most relevant
dimension there. At the--- this thread of wounded--- the great wounded giant uh attacked by some insidious outsiders was really what did it. It would be very interesting to me to see how the--- how
the language of ground zero got—it being an interesting story in itself. I would like to make one brief comment madam chairman on this issue of manufactured. Uh it seems to me in a way an event of
this sort, of course there is going to be a manufacturing going on at all levels and every place. It is so dramatic and so destructive and so shocking and that there is no premium on the press doing
it even though the press has a certain advantage in --- in the process of manufacturing the – assigning meaning, coming to understanding. In this particular case you had a rather strong convergence
at the Federal governmental, media, and larger population which is not the case for many traumas such as economic crisis, or political crisis of various sorts where you get a divergence of meaning.
Now another thing that I did not really develop in connection with trauma is that after a time the trauma becomes a matter of fundamental and deep contestation in society among groups that are
interested in it and we see this developing. I --- we now see republican and democratic interest in sustaining the trauma, or not sustaining the trauma, and uh whipping up public anxiety, and what
kind of a --- what kind of preparations we should make and civil liberties and so on and so forth. All these things are ----cannot be in any way said to be somehow or other manipulated or-or- or
manufactured, the logic is much more complex than this though I do not mean to demean the role of the press in the communication of meanings. BARBARA RESKIN: One final question. AUDIENCE QUESTION:
NEIL SMELSER: I believe that kind of repetition which uh I also remember occurring in the assignation of Kennedy and other dramatic uh events this --- that was unrelenting repeating of the same
images, it is of course a very, very, different story of the kind of consciousness that is generated and that if you rely on word of mouth, and passing of rumors, and distortions and corrections, and
so on in the kind of communal setting, here the media plays a role of crystallizing quickly, of salience, of highlighting, of indeed stereotyping, this is really one of the key ingredients of the kind
of a mass and immediate character of international---- and it applies not just to this event but to Tiananmen Square, it applies to the coming down of the wall, it applies to the OJ Simpson trial,
just name it you get this tremendous and quick convergence of common images, not all of which evoke the same meaning in every viewer but none the less which tends to telescope the process in ways we
haven’t experienced before.