My name is Mohammed, I am from Egypt. I graduated in Political Science department in Cairo University in 2005. I am an MA candidate in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University (CCAS). My thesis tackles the relation between modernity, rule of law and justice in colonial and postcolonial Egypt.
My experience with Prof. John Esposito began when he gave a lecture in Cairo University in the wake of 9/11 event. He revealed a highly critical and courageous position concerning the Arab American relations during such tremulous period. The lecture introduced me to his intellectual contributions on Islamic political movements and modern Islamic thought which enhanced my understanding of the relation between politics and religion and invited me to explore political science- my major at the time- from a different scope. I followed his contributions in the following years and was fortunate to know him closely when I first came to the states to study at Georgetown University in 2009.
Through two years of building an academic career, I had the pleasure to be part of the ACMCU family where ventured a new life in terms of academia and culture. The work experience in the ACMCU helped me broaden my horizons; the conferences, lectures and debates organized by the center brought the most sensitive issues of inter-faith dialogue to question. They also managed eloquently to overcame and contend the hegemonic discourses of “the clash of civilizations,” “the crisis of Islam” and “the Arab exceptionalism” which block any possibility of global and cultural coexistence.
I enriched my academic skills in the center by assisting Dr. Yvonne Haddad in her research on the American foreign policy towards the Islamic movements in Egypt. I also helped her in her forthcoming book on Sayyid Qutub which questions the Islamic critique of modernity and proposes a new perspective on Qutub’s controversy with the “West.” Reading the autobiography of Qutub, specifically his journey to the United States, opened new horizons for studying cultural history and helped me develop my previous work on the Iranian thinker Ali Shariati who shares Qutub’s worldview but differs completely in his political consequences.
In addition, the center offers a variety of interesting courses. I attended two classes with Prof. Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, the distinguished art historian and adjunct professor in the center. Her magnificent class on “Women, Orientalism and Art” was a landmark for my academic background, since she helped me develop my arguments on Orientalism and the representation of Arabs in the colonial and neo-colonial discourses.
The family of ACMCU was not only supportive on the professional and the intellectual scale, it was caring and encouraging on the personal level as well. It has been a real challenge for me to understand and cope with different social codes and cultural norms in the United State, and I wouldn’t breakthrough such hard experience without the priceless advice of ACMCU Associate Director Alexa Poletto.