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Thursday, August 28, 2008

An Interview with Samuel Huntington - Amina R Chaudary

For 13 years, three words have dominated the discourse on cultural, international, and religious affairs as they relate to foreign policy in our times. The “clash of civilizations,” as argued by Harvard University Professor Samuel Huntington, has stirred heated debate across the globe, but particularly among many Muslim nations. His theory is often interpreted to proclaim a fundamental incompatibility between the “Christian West” and the “Muslim World.” The scale of impact it has had on global politics is sometimes difficult to comprehend. A Google search of “clash of civilizations,” for example, produced 2.62 million hits, and to this day, this famous phrase is quoted in newspapers, books, journals, and articles from around the world. One of the most recent global acknowledgements of Huntington’s theory is from the United Nations, which under the patronage of Kofi Annan, launched an initiative called the “The Alliance of Civilizations” — presumably as a means of countering this “clash.” The influence of Huntington’s ideas is readily apparent, and will most likely continue to remain at the forefront of international relations for decades.

I had the opportunity to sit with Professor Huntington and ask him to elaborate on this controversial theory. His home is small and quaint, a historic relic tucked away on a quiet brick-lined street in downtown Boston. One wouldn’t imagine that behind such a controversial and combative theory is someone so quiet and soft-spoken. He introduced me to his wife, kindly offered something to drink, and asked me about the weather. We then began to discuss politics of the day. [for more click on the heading]

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON is the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University and author of many renowned books including “Political Order in Changing Societies” (1968), “The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century” (1991), “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” (1996), and “Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity” (2004). He is a graduate from Yale and Harvard universities.


Amina R. Chaudary is a graduate student at Columbia University earning a master’s degree in human rights policy as well as a master’s in liberal arts in government from Harvard University. She has worked in the field of human rights for over five years at organizations such as Oxfam, Women Waging Peace, and others


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