Dr. John Calvert

Associate Professor of History

Holder of the Henry W. Casper, SJ Associate Professorship in History

Department of History
Creighton University
Omaha, Nebraska 68178 USA
Tel: 402-280-2653
Fax: 402-280-1454
JohnCalvert@creighton.edu

Dr. John Calvert studies social protest and political resistance movements in the modern Middle East. He is especially interested in the ways by which opposition groups and individuals employ symbols, doctrines and vocabularies derived from the Islamic heritage. His research focuses on the Muslim Brotherhood, with particular reference to Sayyid Qutb; jihadi organizations and ideologies; and the intersection between Islamism and nationalism.

Ph.D. 1994. McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, Montreal

Diploma Arabic language Studies
, 1988. The American University in Cairo

Master of Arts, 1984. McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies

Master of Arts, 1981.  University of Toronto, Centre for Medieval Studies

Bachelor of Arts, 1978. University of Alberta

Publications:

Books                            

  • Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism (New York and London: Columbia University Press/Hurst, 2010). (360 pages).

    Recognition and Reviews:

    Literary Review, "
    Calvert's biography - the product of both painstaking research into the Arabic sources and an impressive grasp of modern history and culture - presents a rounded picture of a man who, more than any other figure, both epitomized and articulated the cause of political Islam."  Malise Ruthven http://www.literaryreview.co.uk/ruthven_04_11.html

    The Atlantic Monthly (15 December 2010): "Outstanding book from 2010 in Middle East Studies."  Fascinating details emerge in this book...  Anyone interested in the evolution of Islamism in the 20th century should read it." - Marc Lynch
    http://www.theatlantic.com/internatinal/archive/2010/12/best-books-foreign-affairs/67994

    The National (Abu Dhabi): "Sayyid Qutb: A Man of His Era" - "An extensive and vital biography." 17 September 2010.
    http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=26424

    Foreign Affairs (March/April 2011): "Calvert presents a portrait of Qutb worthy of psychobiography, without the excesses of the genre."
    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67519/john-calvert/sayyid-qutb-and-the-origins-of-radical-islamism-columbiahurst

    The Economist
    (15 July 2010): "This is rich and carefully researched biography sets Qutb for the first time in his Egyptian context, rescuing him from caricature without whitwashing his radicalism.  It is no small achievement."
    http://www.economist.com/node/16588026

    The Atlantic Monthly (15 December 2010): "Outstanding book from 2010 in Middle East Studies." "Calvert expertly shows the development of Qutb's thinking."
    http://www.theatlantic.com/internatinal/archive/2010/12/best-books-foreign-affairs/67994

    Foreign Policy
    (15 December 2010): "A best book of 2010."
    http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/15/best_books_on_the_middle_east_2010

    The Guardian
    (27 November 2010): One of the "Books of the Year;" "Shrewedly describes a recurrent but little-understood political journey from secular liberalism to violent extremism."
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/nov/27/christmas-books-year-roundup

    The Immanent Frame, the Social Science Research Council's blog on secularism, religion, and the public sphere, "Book of the Week," 17 August 2010.

    Featured in Rorotoko (27 September 2010): "John Calvert in his book Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism."
    www.rorotoko.com/index.php/article/john_calvert_book_interview_sayyid_qutb_origins_radical_islamism/P1/

    Benny Morris, "Qutb and the Jews," The National Interest (20 October 2010).
    nationalinterest.org/bookreview/qutb-4268

    Washington Times, "Book Review: Radical Islam's Architect and Hamas," 25 August 2010.

  • Sayyid Qutb, A Child from the Village (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2004). Translated, edited and introduced by John Calvert and William Shepard; in alliance with American University in Cairo Press.

    Reviews:
    Choice (May 2005): "... an outstanding, highly recommended contribution to the literature exploring the interaction between traditional societies and the changes and challenges imposed by modern influences and institutions."

    Arab News (28 January 2006): "...remarkable introduction..."

  • Islamism: A Sourcebook and Reference Guide (Westview, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007).  Reprinted Pentagon Press, New Delhi in association with Praeger Security International.

    Review:
    Choice:
    "...This volume provides much-needed primary source material and analysis for those studying the topic."

  • Divisions Within Islam.  World of Islam series (Philadelphia: Mason Crest, 2009). (120 pages).

    Reviews:
    School Library Journal:  "These titles do a good job of making clear the issues facing the Muslim world...  They also show the diversity of thought and opinion within Islam, separating radical Islam and radical Islamists from the majority... [T]he books illustrate the diversity of Islamic faith in a clear and unbiased manner."

  • The Arabian Peninsula in the Age of Oil (Broomhall, PA: Mason Crest, 2007).

Edited Works

  • Guest Editor of a special issue of Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques, entitled "Islam and Modernity" (Fall 2004, vol. 30, no. 3).  The issue comprises eight articles by leading scholars int he field of Middle East/Islamic Studies.  I wrote the Introduction and contributed an article (see below) to the volume.
  • Co-Editor (with Khaled Abou Fadl, UCLA School of Law). Primary author Kim Whitehead, Introducing Islam: Islamic Fundamentalism (Broomall, PA: Mason Crest Publishers, 2004).
  • Guest editor Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques, entitled "Islam and Modernity," vol. 30, no. 3, Fall 2004.  The issue comprises eight articles by leading scholars in the field.

Journal Articles

  • "'The Striving Shaykh' Abdullah Azzam and the Revival of Jihad."  Journal of Religion and Society, Supplement Series 2 (2007).
  • "Sayyid Qutb and the Power of Political Myth: Insights from Sorel," Historical Reflections vol. 3, Fall 2004, pp. 509-528.
  • "Mythic Foundations of Radical Islam," Orbis, vol 48, Winter 2004, pp. 29-41.  Also at: http://www.fpri.org/orbis/4801/Calvert.mythradicalislam.html
  • "The Islamist Syndrome of Cultural Confrontation," Orbis, vol. 46, Spring 2002, pp. 333-349.
  • "The World is an Undutiful Boy!": Sayyid Qutb's American Experience," Islam and Christian ? Muslim Relations vol. 11:1, March 2000, pp. 87-103.
  • "The Nation and the Individual: Sayyid Qutb?s Tifl min al-Qarya (Child from the Village)," The Muslim World, vol. 90, nos. 1-2, Spring 2000, pp. 107-132.
  • "Qur'anic Aesthetics in the Thought of Sayyid Qutb," Religious Studies and Theology, vol. 15, nos. 2-3, December 1996, pp. 61-76.
  • "Radical Islamism and the Jews: The View of Sayyid Qutb," in Representations of Jews Through the Ages. Studies in Jewish Civilization, 8, eds. L. Greenspoon and B. Le Beau (Omaha: Creighton University Press, 1966), pp. 213-229.

Book Chapters and Collected Papers             

  • "Wayward Son: The Brother's Reception of Sayyid Qutb," The Muslim Brothers in Europe: Burdens of the Past, Challenges for the Future, eds. Roel Meijer/Edwin Bakker (London: Hurst & Co., forthcoming Spring 2011).
  • "An Islamist's View of America," Terrorism: A Documentary and Reference Guide (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishers, 2005). Chapter consists of translations from Arabic of the following articles by Sayyid Qutb.
  • "Conflicts within Islam: Moderates vs Extremists," in Focus on Terrorism ed. World Book (Chicago: World Book, Inc., 2003), pp. 102-105.
  • "Reshaping the Family in Egypt: The Islamist Discourse." (Chapter prepared for Symposium on Religion and the Family, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and Society (Creighton University Press, 2007).
  • "The Striving Shaykh: Abdullah Azzam and the Revival of Jihad," Journal of Religion and Society, Supplement Series 2 (2007) at: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2007/2007-6.html
  • "An Islamist's View of America," Terrorism: A Documentary and Reference Guide (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishers, 2005) 
  • "Conflicts within Islam: Moderates vs Extremists," in Focus on Terrorism, World Book (Chicago: World Book, Inc., 2003) pp. 102-105.
  • "Reshaping the Family in Egypt: The Islamist Discourse." (Chapter prepared for Symposium on Religion and the Family, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and Society. Forthcoming Creighton University Press).

Journalistic Articles and Essays

  • "The Afterlife of Sayyid Qutb,: Foreign Policy, 14 December 2010.
    http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/14/the_afterlife_of_sayyid_qutb
  • "A Biography ont he Influential Egyptian Idelologue of Islamic Revolution: John Calvert on his book Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism." rorotoko: Cutting Edge Intellectual Interviews (27 September 2010):
    http://www.rorotoko.com/index.php/aritcle/john_calvert_book_interview_sayyid_qutb_origins_radical_islamism/
  • "The Taliban," Creighton University Magazine (Spring 2010).
  • "Iraq's Shi'a Renaissance," Creighton University Magazine, Winter 2007, 10-15.
  • "Renaissance Man," Creighton University Magazine, Winter 2005, 48-49
  • "Iraq Déjà vu," Creighton University Magazine
  • "What is it about Radical Islamism that Leads People to Commit Acts of Terror?" Op-ed. History News Network. Center for history and New Media, George Mason University. At: http://hnn.us/articles/1439.html
  • "Islam's 'Rogue Cousin'," Creighton University Magazine, Summer 2002.
  • "Sayyid Qutb in America," Newsletter of the International Institute for the Study of Islam, 7 (March 2001), 8. Also at http://www.isim.nl/
  • "Islam and the West: Clash of Civilizations?" Newsletter of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society (Creighton University), Spring 1997 vol. 8 no. 2. Also at http://puffin.creighton.edu/human/csrs/centerhome.html

Encyclopedia entries:

World Book Encyclopedia

  • "Madrasah" (2005)
  • "Sayyid Qutb" (2003)

Encyclopedia of African History (Routledge, 2004)

  • Islamism and Radicalism: Salafiyya and Muslim Brotherhood
  • Ibn Khaldun and the History of the Berbers
  • Muhammad Abduh, Islamic Writer and Lawyer (1848-1905)
  • Muhammad al-Sanusi (c. 1790-1859) and the Sanusiyya
  • Ibn Khaldun and the Civilization of the Maghrib
  • Fatimids in Egypt (969-1073)

Encyclopedia of African Thought (Oxford University Press, 2010)

  • Gamal Abdul Nasser
  • Ibn Battuta
  • Ibn Khaldoun

Encyclopedia of African Biography

  • Ibn Battuta (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Book Reviews:

  • Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).  Reviewed for the International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 39, 2007, 46-462.
  • Nazik Saba Yared, Secularism and the Arab World (Saqi Books: London, 2002). Reviewed for International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 36, 2004, 131-132.
  • Luis Martinez, The Algerian Civil War, 1990-1998 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). Reviewed for H-Africa, March 2003. http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=180391051388618
  • Haggai Erlich and Israel Gershoni. The Nile: Histories, Cultures, Myths (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000). Reviewed in Digest of Middle East Studies (Winter 2001)
  • Fahmy, Khaled. All the Pasha's Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army and the Making of Modern Egypt (New York, NY.: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Reviewed in Digest of Middle East Studies (Summer 2000).
  • Mamoun Fandy, Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent (New York: St. Martin?s Press, 1999). Religious Studies Review (vol. 26, January 2000).
  • Khaled Mohi El Din. Memories of a Revolution (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1997). Reviewed in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, 31 (February 1999), 137-139.
  • Francois Burgat. The Islamic Movement in North Africa, 2nd edition. Translated William Dowell. Middle East Monograph Series (Center for Middle Eastern Studies: University of Texas at Austin, 1997). Reviewed for H-Africa, April 1998. http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=26526893103039
  • Earle Waugh, Sharon McIrvin Abu Labban, Regula Burckhardt Qureshi (eds). Muslim Families in North America (Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 1991). Reviewed in Canadian Journal of Theology, Vol. 31, no. 4 (1992), 474).

Book Review Editor for Journal of Religion and Society (2006-present)

Manuscript reviewing:

  • American Political Science Review
  • Terrorism and Political Violence
  • Politics and Religion
  • University of Utah Press
  • Oneworld
  • Journal of Arabic Literature
  • University of Florida Press
  • Knopf
  • Greenwood Publishing Group
  • Comparative Islamic Studies
  • Houghton Mifflin
  • African Studies Review
  • The Journal of Religion and Society
  • Mason Crest
  • Prentice Hall
  • Hurst and Company

Conference Papers and Fora

  • "The Reception of Global Jihadism in Indonesia and Bosnia", International Conference on Southeast Europe-Southeast Asia: Islam, Mergers and Margins, Hotel Equatorial Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia, 4 january 2010.  Organized by Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies (NIU), and Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies (UC).
  • "Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism: A Conversation with John Calvert," Project on Middle East Political Science, Elliott School of International Relations, George Washington University, Washington DC, 11 November 2010.
  • "The Root and Branch of Islamist Radicalism," Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Shrivenham, Wiltshire, 20 October 2010.
  • "Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism," London School of Economics, 18 October 2010. 
    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/middleEastCentre/events/2010/sayyidQutb.aspx; http://caroolkersten.blogspot.com/2010/10/assessing-sayyid-qutb-importance-of.html
  • "Algeria: A Trip Report," Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 24, 2008.
  • "Understanding Terrorism: The Need for Understanding Radical Perceptions," Treating Terrorism Conference, Dubai, UAE, March 18-20, 2008.
  • "Muslim and Western Perceptions of the Other," Fr. Henry Casper, SJ Lecture, Creighton University, Oct 2007.
  • "The Life and Thought of Sayyid Qutb," keynote address, Midland Lutheran College, Arts and Humanities Forum, April 8, 2006.
  • "The Striving Shaykh: Abdullah Azzam and the Revival of Jihad," Conference on Religion and Violence in Context, Kripke Center for the Studyof Relgion and Society, November15, 2005.
  • "Gulf Security," National Conference on Terrorism and National Security, Dubai, UAE, April 30, 2005.
  • "Sources and Actors of Radical Islam," Presidential Forum on Turning Points in History, Mississippi State University, 13 April 2005.
  • "Islamism and Terrorism, The American Encounter with Islam: A History Institute for Teachers," Foreign Policy Research Institute (Philadelphia, May 4, 2003).
  • "Mythic Foundations of Radical Islamic Violence." Paper presented at the International Conference on Muslims and Islam in the 21st Century: Image and Reality; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 5, 2004.
  • "The Image of Islam in the West," Panel presentation at the International Conference on Muslims and Islam in the 21st Century: Image and Reality,? Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 6, 2004.
  • "The Mythic Foundations of Radical Islam." Paper presented at the Missouri Valley History Conference, March 5, 2004, Omaha.
  • "Dinshaway: Event and Historical Memory." Paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association Conference, Anchorage, Alaska, November 7, 2003.
  • "Reshaping the Family in Egypt, The Islamist Discourse." Paper presented at Religion and Family Symposium, Creighton University, April 5, 2002.
  • "Against Islamic Extremism: Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Conservative Islamism." Paper presented at the Third World Studies Conference, University of Nebraska, October 5, 2001.
  • "Sayyid Qutb in America." Paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association of North America, November 16-19, 2000, Orlando, FL.
  • "The Individual and the Nation: Sayyid Qutb's Tifl min al-Qarya (Child from the Village)." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt, April 28-30, 2000, University of California, Berkeley.
  • "'The World is an Undutiful Boy': Sayyid Qutb's American Experience." Paper presented at the Third Triennial Conference of the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies, September 27-29, 1999, Ghent, Belgium.
  • "Egypt, the Muslim Brothers, and the Palestine Question, 1936-1952." Paper presented at the Missouri Valley History Conference, March 11-13, 1999, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • "Palestine and Israel in the Thought of Sayyid Qutb." Paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association Conference, December 4-6, 1998, Chicago, IL.
  • "'The America I Saw': an Islamist's View of the United States." Paper presented at the Third World Studies Conference, October 8-10, 1998, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • "Hasan Hanafi and the Renewal of Islamic Thought." Paper presented to the American Academy of Religion, Rocky Mountain-Great Plains Regional Meeting, March 20-21, 1998, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • "Cultural Confrontation in the Thought of Sayyid Qutb." Paper presented to the Middle East Studies Association Conference, November 19-21, 1996, Providence, RI.
  • "Radical Islamism and the Jews: The View of Sayyid Qutb." Paper presented at the Eighth Annual Klutznick Symposium, September 17-18, 1995, Creighton University.
  • "Heritage and Renewal: Ibn Khaldun in Modern Arab Political Discourse." Paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association Conference, November 11-13, 1993, Research Triangle, North Carolina.
  • "The Radicalism of Tradition: Islamism in Egypt." Paper presented at the Middle East Studies Conference, October 29-31, 1992, Portand, OR.
  • "Disciplining the Maghrib: Ibn Khaldun and the French Historiography of North Africa." Paper presented at the Canadian African Studies Association Conference, May 7-9, 1987, Edmonton AB.

Media Interviews

  • "Irmandade emerge como ator decisivo do pos-Murababk," O Estado de S. Paulo (Brazil), February 13, 2011. 
    http://www.estadao.com.br/estadaodehoje/20110213/not_imp678914,0.php
  • "Is Muslim Brotherhood shaped by 1950s views?" USA Today, February 7, 2011. 
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-02-08-Muslim-brotherhood_07_ST_N.htm
  • Interview with Malaysian TV (Program, Vantage Point, Astro Awani), "Islamic culture in hybrid societies," January 4, 2011.
  • "Terrorism's Past and Present," Fort Collins NOW, Thursday, February 12, 2009.
  • "Kiffiyeh Scarf: A Hot Accessory or Political Statement?" Omaha World Herald, December 4, 2008.
  • "Sayyid Qutb," The Philosopher's Zone, Australian Broadcasting Co., Setpember 6, 2008.
  • "Hilali's Radical Mentor, The Australian, Oct. 30, 2006.  http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20665970-28737,00.html
  • "Israel and Hizbullah," Dateline Creighton, KIOS, August 24, 2006.
  • "Memories of Sayyid Qutb: An Interview with John Calvert,? World Press Review Sept. 21, 2005, http://www.worldpress.org/Mideast/2150.cfm
  • Radio interview with ?Dateline: Creighton,? KIOS, ?Iraq Déjà vu,? June 4, 2004.
  • "Sayyid Qutb's America," All things Considered, National Public Radio, May 6, 2003. At: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1253796
  • Interviews with Adam Curtis of BBC Television for documentary film. ?The Power of Nightmares,? Creighton University, May 2930, 2003. Transcript: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/video1037.htm
  • "Greeley's Al Qaeda Connection: How 1940s Greeley Influenced Al Qaeda?s Mastermind," Fort Collins Weekly, vol. 2, Issue 5, April 2-8, 2003.
  • "Terrorists of al-Qaeda Grew Bitter While in West," Baltimore Sun. March 6, 2003 http://www.suspot.net/news/custom/attack/bal-te.abroad06mar06,0,6129576.story?coll=bal-nationalworld-headlines
  • "Architect of Islamic Anger," Edmonton Journal, Sunday Jan. 5, 2003.  Feature Sunday article by staff writer David Staples profiles my career and research on Sayyid Qutb.
  • "Roots of Terrorism," Greeley Tribune, February 24, 2002.  Extensive references to my work
  • "Greeley Trip was one of Islamist's 'Milestones,'" Rocky Mountain News (Denver), Saturday, September 21, 2002.  Article by staff writer Ann Imse extensively quotes me and my work on Qutb.
  • Live radio interview (call in), KKAR, Sept. 18, 2002, relating to Iraq and U.S.
  • "How Can America be Reviled" Expert Says Policies, Culture," Omaha World Herald, Sept. 21, 2001
  • Omaha World Herald, "U.S Policy in Middle East," Sept. 19, 2001
  • Live radio interview, KKAR, Sept. 11, 2001, relating to terrorist attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon
  • Live radio interview, KFAB, Sept. 11, 2001, relating to terrorist attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon
  • Live Radio interview, KFAB, Sept 16, 2001, relating to U.S. response to terrorist attacks.
  • Live interview on Omaha radio station KFAB, on Israel's elections, May 18, 1999
  • Live interview on Omaha radio station KFAB, "Arab Responses to Saddam Husayn's Challenge to the UN," November 1997
  • Live television interview on the Omaha ABC affiliate, KETV, on the crisis situation in Jerusalem following the opening of an archaeological tunnel, April 1997

Courses taught at Creighton and Elsewhere

The following all deal, in various ways and to different degrees, with the decline and collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of the current state system. Issues pertaining to politics, economics and culture are considered.

  • The Making of Modern Egypt
  • Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict
  • Change and Revolution in the Modern Middle East
  • History of the Middle East, 1798-1918
  • Contemporary Politics of the Middle East (Graduate course for International Relations Program)
  • Topics in North African History

The classical and medieval periods of Islamic history:

  • Muhammad and the Rise of Islam
  • History of Islamic Civilization: The Classical Period

The historical development of the Islamic religious tradition:

  • Islam in the Modern World
  • Islamic Civilization

Survey courses:

  • The Middle Eastern World
  • Introduction to Islam
  • The Modern Western World

Diverse topics:

  • Jerusalem: City of Heaven, City of Contestation
  • Historiography

Select Consultantships

  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Consultant, Towers Productions (Chicago), for History Channel Documentary on Muslim Brotherhood, April-August 2005.
  • Dubai Consultancy, United Arab Emirates, April 30, 2005; August 2006.
  • Consultant to SR TELECOM. August 2002-October 2003.
  • Consultant to Cogeco-S.N. Lavlin, Inc. January 2000-November 2002.
  • Consultant to The New Yorker Magazine. January 2002-present.
  • Consultant to the Documentation, Information and Research Branch of the Canadian Refugee Board. November 1994.
  • Consultant, Canada-Egypt-McGill Agricultural Response Project, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), 1989-1999.

Academic Employment

  • Creighton University, Department of History: 1994-present.
  • Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Department of History: Adjunct faculty member 1993.
  • McGill University, Montreal, Institute of Islamic Studies: Lecturer 1990-1993.
  • Queen?s University, Kingston, Department of Religion, Lecturer 1991.
  • Bishop?s University, Lennoxville, Quebec, Department of History: Lecturer 1991.

Work Related Travel

Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Malaysia, Hungary, Belgium, U.K,. Netherlands, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan.