Title: Islamist Political Practice and the Remaking of Democracy: Hizballah and al-Islah in Comparative Perspective
Name: Stacey Philbrick Yadav

Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Year: 2006
Type: Dissertation Fellowship
Summary: This project explores the ways in which Islamist parties contribute to the constitution of state authority, through mechanisms of shared governance and through political opposition. The two case studies for the work are the Lebanese Hizballah and the Yemeni al-Tagamu' al-Yamani lil- Islah, or the Yemeni Congregation for Reform. Based on field research in Lebanon, Yemen, and Egypt between 2003 and 2006, I compare the experiences of both parties, as the assumed leadership positions in governing cabinets and in cross-ideological opposition alliances, between 1990 and 2005. My conclusions suggest that prevailing understandings of Islamist parties as a threat to state authority fail to identify the ways in which Islamist appeals, legitimated through non-state sources of authority, nonetheless help to fix in citizens' minds the notion that the state is the appropriate site through which power ought to be distributed. That said, I also examine the discursive strategies that Islamists use to legitimize their participation in state institutions, as well as to jockey for influence in opposition coalitions, and map the forms of discursive power that have been used more (and less) successfully to mediate these relationships. Perhaps the most novel of the findings relates to the ways in which Islamist use of idioms of takfir (or allegations of apostasy) have paradoxically led to a rise and strengthening of younger, reform-reform oriented activists in the Yemeni case. This is only one of the examples that the project offers of the ways in which Islamists have shaped the discursive field, with sometimes unanticipated consequences.
Bibliography: Yadav, Stacey. "Understanding 'What Islamists Want': Public Debate and Contestation in Lebanon and Yemen." Middle East Journal 64 (2):199-213. 2010.

Yadav, Stacey. "Segmented Publics and Islamist Women in Yemen: Rethinking Space and Activism." Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 6 (2):1-30. 2010.

Yadav, Stacey. "(En)Durable Syncretism: Hizballah in the 'Space Between.'" in Reconfiguring Institutions Across Time and Space. Edited by Dennis Galvan and Rudra Sil. Palgrave, 113-136. 2007.