Calculating the Other: ISIS and Paris

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After a lovely dinner at a restaurant the other night, with my mom and husband, we came home, checked our cell phones, and were consumed by the unfolding story about the attacks in Paris.  In the flurry of articles trying to make sense of the situation, “Crimes Jihadists Will Sentence You to Death For,” caught my attention.  Its argument mirrored many of the discussions that were happening on people’s Facebook walls – there’s something so distinct, so different about ISIS, its religion, political aims, use of violence, that renders it beyond comprehension. Continue reading

You Are What We Say You Are

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Robert Scholl is a senior at the University of Alabama studying Middle Eastern Studies. Mr. Scholl comes from Norcross, Georgia. He wrote this post as part of Dr. Ramey’s course, REL 321: Religion and Identity in South Asia.

Identity is impacted greatly by those around you and how they perceive you. Due to this fact, both your own identity and your inclusion within society are strongly dependent on these labels used by society to define you. This is the case with the “terrorist” group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).

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Authenticity and the Nation-State, Or Why Thai Food is a Lot Like ISIS

 

tumblr_mdls46sPdt1qawtgfo1_1280We love Thai food around here. But how do you know the food on your plate is actually Thai? What makes it Thai? The sign in the restaurant window? The “Thai tea?” What is “authentic Thai food?”

Well, the government of Thailand is sick and tired of your sad excuses for Thai food and they have a plan to ensure you never settle for fake Thai food again. It’s not just a plan, it’s a robot. Continue reading

I Know You Are But What Am I?

By Cara Burnidge

Cara Burnidge, Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Northern Iowa, teaches Religions of the World and researches religion in U.S. foreign relations. She also tweets and, along with her students, curates a Flipboard magazine dedicated to religion in international affairs.

Readers beware: this blog post is not about religion. It is a reflection on some of the issues involved in defining an object of study.*

This past week, Rachel Maddow kicked off her show with an international topic dominating the news. Before she talked about bombings, though, she turned her attention to borders.

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