POMEPS Studies 27: Local Politics and Islamist Movements

Scholars and policymakers have increasingly recognized that Islamist movements and actors vary widely – from domestically oriented, quietist movements engaging in democratic systems to revolutionary, armed movements aiming to upend the nation-state system. Yet, little has been done to understand how the nature of individual movements, and their success, often differs substantially at the subnational level. Some communities are much more likely to support different Islamist actors than others, and even the same movement may have very different strategies in some localities than others. Many questions remain regarding if and how Islamist movements and actors look or act differently in rural areas and secondary cities as they do in the capitals. To what extent do the strategies and performance of Islamists vary sub-nationally? And what explains this variation?

To address this gap in understanding, the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Program on Governance and Local Development at the University of Gothenburg convened a workshop in June 2017. In doing so, it extends research on Islamist movements, which has primarily examined the strategies of movement leaders, the relationship between Islamist movements and social services, the level support for these movements, and the performance of parliamentarian at the national level  Yet, as political science as a discipline has increasingly recognized, much of the actual experience of politics takes place outside capital cities and major urban areas and that subnational variation is particularly important. The goal of the workshop was thus to take stock of the knowledge that exists on local Islam, and to point to new avenues of research.

The papers in this collection cover a diverse set of countries and historical periods. Bringing together specialists on local Islamist politics in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa provided us an extraordinary breadth of contexts. This allowed us to consider the extent to which the mechanisms we uncovered operate across multiple domains, to weigh factors common to Islamist movements, generally, and to recognize when outcomes appear to be primarily driven by context. Read the full collection here.

Islamist strategies beyond the center

The Party of Justice and Development and municipal elections in MoroccoJanine A. Clark, University of Guelph

The Persistent Rural Failure of Morocco’s Justice and Development Party, Yasmina Abouzzohour, University of Oxford

The Rise of the Islamic Constitutional Movement in Kuwait, Yuree Noh, University of California, Los Angeles

Why do some localities in Turkey remain resistant to Islamist political mobilization? Evren Celik Wiltse, South Dakota State University

Clientelism and services in the periphery

Municipal Service Delivery, Identity Politics and Islamist Parties in Turkey Melissa Marschall and Marwa Shalaby, Rice University; Saadet Konak Unal, University of Houston

Municipal Management and Service Delivery as Resilience Strategies: Hezbollah’s Local Development Politics in South-Lebanon Diana Zeidan, École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

A Local Islamist Advantage? Toward a Theory of National and Local Service Provision in Algeria Lindsay J. Benstead, Portland State University

Local organizing

Local Religious Leaders and the Rise of Political Islam Steven Brooke, University of Louisville and Neil Ketchley, King’s College London

Central-local relations: Issues of autonomy and control within the Union des organisations islamiques de France , Margot Dazey, University of Cambridge

Islamist and Non-Islamist Local Activism: Comparative Reflections from Egypt’s Popular Committees Asya El-Meehy, University of California Berkeley

Islamist insurgencies

The Non-Economic Logic of Rebel Taxation: Evidence from an Islamic State-Controlled District Mara Revkin, Yale University

Beyond Maiduguri: Understanding Boko Haram’s rule in rural communities of northeastern Nigeria Olabanji Akinola, University of Guelph

Preventing the Spread of Extremism by Understanding Sindhi Rural Society  Mujtaba Isani, University of Muenster