Public Affairs

CGS at AUK Explores Gulf-Egypt Religious Connections

20th Nov 2019 | by the Office of Public Affairs

The Center for Gulf Studies (CGS) at the American University of Kuwait (AUK), in collaboration with Sciences Po and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), hosted a lecture entitled, “The Gulf and Egypt: Religious Connections”. The lecture was presented by Dr. Stéphane Lacroix, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Sciences Po in Paris, France. The lecture was held at AUK’s auditorium, and was attended by Her Excellency Ambassador Marie Masdupuy, the Ambassador of France to Kuwait. 

In his lecture, Dr. Lacroix began by exploring the origins of Salafism in Saudi Arabia, and its role in normalizing Saudi sovereignty.  He traced the movement’s transnational religious circulation into Egypt, which both impacted the movement’s ideology and practices and led to the establishment of a more formalized structured institution in Egypt. He continued to contend that although the Egyptian Salafi movement was initially fueled by Saudi Arabia’s religious influence, the growth of the movement during the 20th and 21st century in Egypt was due to internal domestic factors. These factors included the increased publishing of Salafi commentary through the Al-Manar journal in Egypt, which influenced the resurgence of Ibn Taymiyyah’s works, and influenced the establishment of other religious institutions.

Dr. Lacroix clarified his talk by stating, “What I tried to do in my presentation was to add nuance to our understanding of Gulf-Egypt religious relations. One commonly held view, in particular, is that Egypt’s Salafi movement is a mere extension of Saudi religious influence. What I wanted to show is that despite the obvious existence of links between the two, when one looks at the historical and sociological evidence, this connection appears to be largely overrated.”  He continued, “It was an immense pleasure to lecture at AUK in front of such an engaged community of scholars and students. I am especially grateful to my dear friends at the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science for arranging this talk.”

Dr. Shareefa Al-Adwani, the Director of the CGS, commented, “We welcome Professor Stephane Lacroix back to AUK’s Center for Gulf Studies, with the collaboration of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Sciences Po, to discuss his book-in-development and the special research he has been conducting on the Gulf and Egypt for more than fifteen years.” On Dr. Lacroix’s presentation, she noted, “During his research, Dr. Lacroix had investigated some commonly-held beliefs about the history and connections of various ideologies in our region. He found that the relationships between ideologies are not always as simple as was initially thought both in the Gulf studies literature and in our communities and spoke of the complex interactions and autonomous agency held by the people and institutions in Egypt and the Gulf. His cutting-edge research contributes tremendously to the literature on the Gulf; and our AUK community enjoyed being among the first of his audiences to hear about his forthcoming book.”

Stéphane Lacroix is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Sciences Po and a researcher at Sciences Po’s Centre de Recherches Internationales (CERI). He is the author of Awakening Islam: The Politics of Religious Dissent in Contemporary Saudi Arabia (Harvard University Press, 2011), Saudi Arabia in Transition: Insights on Social, Political, Economic and Religious Change (Cambridge University Press, 2015, with Bernard Haykel and Thomas Hegghammer), Egypt’s Revolutions: Politics, Religion, Social Movements (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, with Bernard Rougier), and Revisiting the Arab Uprisings: The Politics of a Revolutionary Moment (Oxford University Press, 2018, with Jean-Pierre Filiu).

About the Center for Gulf Studies:
The Center for Gulf Studies is a research center under the College of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Kuwait. The center aims to promote greater cultural understanding of and increased intellectual interest in the Gulf, by facilitating free and open academic discourse on a range of issues that both shape and challenge this critical region of the world. Their goal is to enable scholars as well as political and civil society actors both within and outside the region to contribute and add value to the burgeoning field of Gulf Studies. To this end, the center seeks to encourage, support, and cultivate interesting and original research on the Gulf, and to create an environment in which AUK students and faculty can interact and collaborate with researchers and activists from around the world in creative and engaging ways.

Dr. Stéphane Lacroix during his lecture

General photo of the lecture

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