MC 365 – Islam and Development in Southeast Asia
Fall Semester 2006 / M W 8:30-9:50 a.m. / Case Hall 340
Prof. B. K. Ritchie
302 Case Hall
Instructor web site:
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday, 1-2:30 p.m.
Course web site:
Course Overview and Objectives
Current world conditions imply much about the relationship between religion and economic
development. Prominent scholars like Samuel Huntington suggest that broad cultural traits, of
which religion comprises a significant portion, determine to a large extent social outcomes.
But how do we explain change over time? Why have Christians at some times been
economically ascendant and at other times laggards? Similar observations can be made of
Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. Does religion have any impact on economic development? If
so, has this impact simply changed over time as religions have changed? Or, as some might
surmise, is economic development caused by a decline in religion or secularization process?
This course explores some of these questions by looking comparatively at one region of the
world: Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia provides a unique research opportunity because it is home
to almost every major religion. It is an area that has experienced tremendous economic boom and
bust. And, both religious and economic variation is significantly concomitant with individual
countries. For example, Thailand is largely Buddhist, Indonesia and Malaysia largely Muslim,
and the Philippines largely Christian. All have experienced tremendous economic expansion and
contraction. This variation allows us to examine the different impact of religion on economics,
politics, and society. Key institutions might include elections, the military, social values, class
structures, rule of law, banks and financial organizations, firms, labor, and education.
At the end of this course I expect that you will have completed individual research that will help
you begin to answer some of these questions.
The structure of the course will be a combination of lecture and discussion. As part of the class
discussion we will review (briefly), clarify, expand, and hopefully argue the readings. To
facilitate this class format, students are expected to show up, do the assigned reading BEFORE
CLASS, participate in class (which is obviously closely tied to showing up), and submit all
assignments on time (I realize you’ve never heard any of this before). Please retain all graded,