In This Article Clash of Civilizations

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks and Sourcebooks
  • The Dialogue Among Civilizations

Islamic Studies Clash of Civilizations
by
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0177

Introduction

From a contemporary perspective, the phrase “clash of civilizations” was popularized by the British-American Orientalist Bernard Lewis in an article for the Atlantic Monthly published in 1990. Lewis argued that Islamic militancy is reinvigorating an ancient rivalry between Islam and the “Judeo-Christian heritage” of the “West.” Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington took up the concept and theorized it in two separate publications. First, in an article for Foreign Affairs, the flagship journal of the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States, and second, in a book titled The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, he advanced his thesis with historical references. Lewis and Huntington wrote within the context of the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. They were addressing these changes in world politics and they argued against euphoric proclamations of an impending “end of history” that writers such as Francis Fukuyama suggested. According to Huntington, the end of the Cold War would not yield peace. Rather, the new world order would facilitate cultural conflict on a global scale, especially between the West, on the one side, and Islam and Confucian civilization, on the other. This conflict will be primarily determined not by ideological or economic factors, but rather by cultural divisions between those civilizations. Since publication of the theory, the clash of civilizations has been refuted in terms of both historical evidence and methodological merit by a range of scholars from different academic disciplines. Nonetheless, the debate is far from closed. The following article takes into account the increasing importance of the Internet for scholarly research and presents a selection of useful web pages that focus on the clash of civilizations or on closely related issues.

General Overviews

The literature on the clash of civilizations thesis, in general, and the supposed global conflict between Islam and the West, in particular, is voluminous and wide-ranging. The debate is interdisciplinary and increasingly global, producing effects in engendering both academic controversy and debates in the policy world. The number of publications on the subject surged after the terror attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 and the ensuing US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The list here includes studies that were published before and after those events, and they were chosen with particular reference to the alleged conflict between Islam and the West. While scholarship is overwhelmingly weighted in opposition to the idea that this civilizational conflict is inevitable, the list below includes publications that both critique and support the clash thesis. More material on the various debates is incorporated in the other sections of this article.

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