Rethinking Civilizational Analysis


Edited by: Saïd Amir Arjomand & Edward A. Tiryakian

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  • Sage Studies in International Sociology


    Julia Evetts, University of Nottingham, UK


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    One very pleasant day in July 1998 during the meeting of the World Congress of Sociology in Montreal, Canada, we met in a Chinese restaurant in Montreal to discuss having a special issue of International Sociology devoted to the rethinking of civilizational analysis. Tiryakian had just reviewed Samuel Huntington's controversial Clash of Civilizations. Our very persons as first and second generation immigrants to the United States, our meeting place in the Chinatown of the major center of the French-Canadian civilizational enclave in North America, and our convention of professional colleagues from all over the world seemed to belie Huntington's notion of insular and mutually antagonistic civilizations and suggested what in his term could only be a single deeply and multiply ‘cleft civilization’. We knew that Huntington was not the only one who had been thinking in terms of civilizations in the 1990s. In fact, a line of thought opposite to the dyspeptic reflections of the Harvard professor, on Islam as the enemy civilization, was being developed in the turbulent ambience of revolutionary Iran. In a 1991 lecture on ‘Our Revolution and the Future of Islam’, Sayyed Mohammad Khatami, then Iran's Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, saw a great challenge in what he considered the crisis of contemporary Western civilization. He argued that the Islamic revolution in Iran could become the source of a renewed Islamic civilization only if it fully engaged with Western civilization and absorbed its positive aspects. The fact that such divergent views of civilizations could arise simultaneously in very different parts of the world demonstrated the salience of the idea in the global age and indicated the timeliness of our idea.

    Active planning for the volume in the following year coincided with the adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations of a proposal by Khatami (now President of the Islamic Republic of Iran) to call 2001 the Year of Dialogue of Civilizations. It seemed all the more important to push for the appropriation by social sciences of the concept of civilization as a heuristic unit of comparative analysis akin to ‘nation’, ‘state’, and ‘religion’, while enhancing the pluralistic awareness of the global encounter of civilizations in the spirit of the United Nations' designation of that year. The first printed copies of the special double issue of International Sociology, 16 (3), bearing the fateful date of September 2001, reached the editorial office at the State University of New York at Stony Brook on or about September 11. In July 2002 we held a symposium on the issue's theme at the next World Congress of Sociology in Brisbane, Australia, and are now publishing it as a book with four additional essays, its relevance for our contemporary world situation made even more striking in the past two years.

    It is appropriate that International Sociology and its publisher seek to bring to the public what we see as a pioneering work in a global field of studies. Nearly 15 years ago Martin Albrow and Elizabeth King culled from various pieces appearing in International Sociology a volume entitled Globalization, Knowledge and Society (Sage, 1990) at a time when the theme of ‘globalization’ was barely discussed. We trust that Rethinking Civilizational Analysis will provide a similar multidisciplinary stimulus.

    Saïd AmirArjomand
    Edward A.Tiryakian


    Saïd Amir Arjomand (PhD, University of Chicago, 1980) is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and was Editor of International Sociology, the journal of the International Sociological Association, from 1998 to 2003. He was also Founder and President of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies (1996–2002). His books include The Shadow of God and the Hidden Imam: Religion, Political Organization and Societal Change in Shi'ite Iran from the Beginning to 1890 (1984) and The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (1988). He has edited a special double issue of International Sociology (March 2003: 18(1)) on ‘Constitutionalism and Political Reconstruction’, and is currently working on a constitutional history of the Islamic Middle East.

    Johann P. Arnason is Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. He has also been a coordinating editor of the journal Thesis Eleven. His publications include Social Theory and Japanese Experience (1997) and Civilizations in Dispute: Historical Questions and Theoretical Traditions (2003). Together with S.N. Eisenstadt and Bjorn Wittrock he is editing a collection of papers on Axial civilizations.

    Diane Barthel-Bouchier is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her publications include Amana: From Pietist Sect to American Community (1984), Putting on Appearances: Gender and Advertising (1988), and Historic Preservation: Collective Memory and Historical Identity (1996). Her research interests are primarily within the sociology of culture and focus on heritage preservation and symbolic identities.

    Daniel Chirot is Professor of Sociology and International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of Modern Tyrants (1996), How Societies Change (1994) and the co-editor of Ethnopolitical Warfare (2001). He is currently finishing a book on genocide, and does consulting work on ethnic conflict mitigation in Africa.

    Randall Collins is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his BA at Harvard (1963), MA at Stanford (1964) and PhD at the University of California, Berkeley (1969). His books include Conflict Sociology (1975), The Credential Society (1979), Weberian Sociological Theory (1986), The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (1998), and most recently, Macro-History: Essays in Sociology of the Long Run (1999).

    Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies, the chair of the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, and the director of Graduate Studies at the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University in New York. Among his publications is Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundation of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1993).

    Shmuel N. Eisenstadt was born in Warsaw, Poland. He is Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also Visiting Professor at numerous universities, member of many scientific academies, recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from the Universities of Tel Aviv, Helsinki and Harvard, recipient of International Balzan Prize, McIver Award of the American Sociological Association, Israel Prize, Rothschild Prize in Social Sciences, Max Planck Research Award, Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences. He has published extensively.

    John A. Hall is the Dean of Arts at McGill University in Montreal. His books include Powers and Liberties (1985), Liberalism (1987), and Coercion and Consent (1994). He is currently completing a biography of Ernest Gellner.

    Cho-Yun Hsu is a University Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh. He was educated at the National Taiwan University and University of Chicago. He has published many books and some two hundred articles in Chinese and English, among which are Ancient China in Transition (1965), The Han Agriculture (1980), and The Western Zhou Civilization (1986). He received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities at the Hong Kong University of Sciences and Technology in 2000, and was awarded for Distinguished Contribution by the American Association for Asian Studies in 2004.

    Donald N. Levine is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. He has been editor of the Heritage of Sociology series since 1988 and was chair of the ASA Theory Section in 1996–97. His recent publications include Visions of the Sociological Tradition (1995), a revised edition of Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society (2000), and Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning (in press).

    T.N. Madan is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi. He is the author/editor of many books including Modern Myths, Locked Minds: Secularism and Fundamentalism in India (1997) and India's Religions: A Book of Readings (forthcoming, 2004).

    Bruce Mazlish is Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Among his books are The Uncertain Sciences (1998) and A New Science: The Breakdown of Connections and the Birth of Sociology (1989).

    Gregory Melleuish is Associate Professor and Head of the School of History and Politics at the University of Wollongong. He currently teaches a subject entitled Empires, Colonies and the Clash of Civilizations that focuses on Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century. His major publications include Cultural Liberalism in Australia (1995) and John West's Union Among the Colonies (2001).

    Donald A. Nielsen is Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. He has published a book on the social philosophy of Emile Durkheim, Three Faces of God: Society, Religion and the Categories of Totality in the Philosophy of Emile Durkheim (1999) as well as other essays on Durkheim and his school. He is also the author of various essays in civilizational analysis and social theory.

    John Rundell is Director of The Ashworth Program in Social Theory at The University of Melbourne, Australia. He is an editor of the journals Thesis Eleven and Critical Horizons, and his recent works include Classical Readings in Culture and Civilization (1998), with Stephen Mennell, and Blurred Boundaries: Migration, Ethnicity, Citizenship (1998), with Rainer Baubock.

    Wolf Schäfer is Professor of History and founding Director of the Center for Global History at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He has taught in Germany and the United States, where he has published books and articles on labor history, the history of science and technology, and new global history. He is currently completing a book of essays on global history.

    Arpad Szakolczai is Professor of Sociology and Head of Department at University College, Cork, Ireland. He studied at the University of Budapest and has a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. His recent publications include Max Weber and Michel Foucault: Parallel Life-Works (1998), Reflexive Historical Sociology (2000), and The Genesis of Modernity (2003), as well as articles and essays in Social Research, the American Journal of Sociology, Theory, Culture and Society, the European Journal of Social Theory, and the European Sociological Review. He was a Research Fellow of the Institute of Sociology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences and has taught at the European University Institute in Florence.

    Edward A. Tiryakian is Professor of Sociology at Duke University, where he has served as Director of International Studies. He has published extensively in the fields of theory, religion, and international studies. In 2002–2003 he was the Distinguished Scholar Leader for a Fulbright New Century Scholars Program on the theme of ‘Addressing Sectarian, Ethnic and Cultural Conflict within and Across National Borders’.

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