NEW YORK, March 17, 2009 – Prominent American scholar, blogger, and historian of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history Juan Cole appeared at the Asia Society in conjunction with the launch of his latest book, Engaging The Muslim World, an examination of the complexities of the modern Islamic world and the ways in which successive US governments have failed to understand these societies.
Beginning with a detailed slide presentation, Cole argued that the Muslim world, far from being a single monolithic entity, is actually far more heterogeneous than most people in the West (particularly Americans) commonly suppose. Cole went on to explain how changing demographics and patterns of energy consumption mean that America's relationship with the countries in question will only become more important further into the 21st century. In the end, he concluded, "dialogue, compromise, and engagement" will be crucial for the US to maintain (and in some cases establish) better relations with the Islamic world.
In a follow-up discussion with Asia Society Director of Cultural Programs Rachel Cooper, Cole went on to cite various nuances both within and between Muslim societies that Western media commonly fail to appreciate.
A part of Asia Society's Creative Voices of Islam in Asia project, generously funded, in part, by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and Lisina Hoch.