In this cultural history of Americans' engagement with Islam in the colonial and antebellum period, Timothy Marr analyzes the historical roots of how the Muslim world figured in American prophecy, politics, reform, fiction, art and dress. Marr argues that perceptions of the Muslim world, long viewed not only as both an anti-Christian and despotic threat but also as an exotic other, held a larger place in domestic American concerns than previously thought. Historical, literary, and imagined encounters with Muslim history and practices provided a backdrop where different Americans oriented the direction of their national project, the morality of the social institutions, and the contours of their romantic imaginations. This history sits as an important background to help understand present conflicts between the Muslim world and the United States.
Introduction: imagining Ishmael: introducing American Islamicism; 1. Islamicism and counterdespotism in early national cultural expression; 2. 'Drying up the Euphrates': Muslims, millennialism, and early American missionary enterprise; 3. Antebellum Islamicism and the transnational crusade of antislavery and temperance reform; 4. 'Turkey is in our midst': Mormonism as an American 'Islam'; 5. American Ishmael: Herman Melville's literary Islamicism; Conclusion: American Howadjis: the gendered pageantry of mid-nineteenth-century Islamicism.
The history of Americans perceptions of, and engagements with, the Islamic world is obviously of enormous interest today. One of the strengths of this book is that it pays attention to that of the diversity of those encounters, while not ignoring the fundamental relations of power between U.S. and Muslim populations. Marr's well researched, erudite, and thoroughly engaging book provides not only a study of American Islamicism, but also a broad-based and intellectually rich analysis of the United States and its global cultural imaginings in the 18th and 19th centuries.
-Melani McAlister, George Washington University
"Marr's study opens up a new historical context to American mis-images of Islam spread over the last three centuries and their unacknowledged reverberations even today."
-Iftikhar Malik, Bath Spa University College, Bath, UK The Journal of American History
"This author's thoroughly researched and documented book is indispensable reading for anyone seriously interested in the genealogy of America's conflicted view of Islam."
-Anouar Majid, University of New England, The Historian
"I find this text thoroughly engrossing and informative. His style of writing history is engaging and the contextualization enables readers to be 'be in the moment' with the actors. This text can be read from many perspectives and is certainly academic but also a book for the informed."
Journal of World History, Aminah Beverly McCloud, DePaul University