Roy, Olivier 1949-

views updated

Roy, Olivier 1949-


Born 1949, in La Rochelle, France. Education: Institut National des Langues et Civilizations Orientales, Paris, France, "aggregation" and master's degree, 1972; Institut d'études politiques, Paris, France, Ph.D., 1996.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Columbia University Press, 61 W. 62nd St., New York, NY 10023. E-mail[email protected].


Sociologist, political scientist, educator, and writer. CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research), research director; Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris, France, lecturer; Centre d'Études et de Recherches Internationales (CERI), research associate. Also French Foreign Ministry (Center for Analysis and Forecast), consultant, 1984—; United Nations Office for Coordinating Relief in Afghanistan (UNOCA), consultant, 1988; Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), representative to Tajikistan, 1993-94, and head of OSCE Mission for Tajikistan, 1994.


Leibniz et la Chine, J. Vrin (Paris, France), 1972. (Editor, with André Brigot) Guerre d'Afghanistan: intervention soviétique et résistance, Documentation Français (Paris, France), 1985.

Afghanistan: islam et modernité politique, Seuil (Paris, France), 1985, published in English as Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1986.

Échec de l'islam politique, Seuil (Paris, France), 1992, translation by Carol Volk published as The Failure of Political Islam, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1994.

(With Fariba Adelkhah and Jean-Francois Bayart) Thermidor en Iran, Editions Complexe (Brussels, Belgium), 1993.

Généalogie de l'islamisme, Hachette (Paris, France), 1995.

Afghanistan: From Holy War to Civil War, Darwin Press (Princeton, NJ), 1995.

La nouvelle Asie centrale, ou, La fabrication des nations, Seuil (Paris, France), 1997, published as The New Central Asia: The Creation of Nations, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Vers un islam européen, Esprit (Paris, France), 1999. (With Farhad Khosrokhavar) Iran: comment sortir d'une révolution religieuse, (title means "Iran: How to Exit a Religious Revolution,"), Seuil (Paris, France), 1999.

(With Mariam Abou Zahab) Réseaux islamiques: la connexion afghano-pakistanaise, Autrement (Paris, France), 2002, translation by John King published as Islamist Networks: The Afghan- Pakistan Connection, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, C. Hurst (London, England), 2002, revised and updated edition published as Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Les Illusions du 11 septembre: le débat stratégique face au terrorisme, Seuil (Paris, France), 2002.

La Turquie aujourd'hui: un pays européen?, Encyclopaedia universalis (Paris, France), 2004, translation by Monica Sandor published as Turkey Today: A European Country?, Anthem Press (London, England), 2005.

Afghanistan: la difficile reconstruction d'un etat (title means "Afghanastan: The Difficult Reconstruction of a State"), European Union Institute for Security Studies (Paris, France), 2004.

Laïcité face à l'islam, Stock (Paris, France), 2005.


Olivier Roy is a French academic whose primary interests are Central Asia, Iran, political Islam, and Islam in the West. He is also the author or coauthor of several books exploring Islam, the Middle East, and Asian politics, including The Failure of Political Islam, in which the author discusses his view of Islamic radicalism. According to Roy, radical Islamic fundamentalists are less concerned with religious differences between the Middle East and the West but rather troubled with the overall modern world and how to deal with it. Their ultimate goal, writes Roy, is to prevent the intrusion of modern society into the Middle East. "If you read only one book on political Islam, this should be it," wrote William B. Quandt in Foreign Affairs. Quandt also noted: "On practically every page one finds an interpretation or observation that is provocative and insightful." In a review in Commentary, Daniel Pipes wrote: "Roy is a very knowledgeable student of Islam, even a brilliant one, and his well-translated book is replete with fine insights and memorable epigrams. Referring to the book as "erudite and powerful," American Political Science Review contributor Leonardo A. Villalon wrote that the author presents "a reading of contemporary Islamic movements that provides an important corrective to … gross simplifications."

In Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, the author "takes a broad look at the way in which militant Islam is expressed and organised in a world where people, ideas and electronic messages move swiftly across borders that used to be sealed," as noted by a contributor to the Economist. Nader Hashemi, writing in the Toronto Globe and Mail, commented: "Written for a specialist audience, Roy's narrative can at times seem confusing and opaque, but the nuanced discussion within the text is worth the struggle." Hashemi added: "Roy's most interesting discussion is on the question of Islam and secularization." New York Times Book Review contributor Noah Feldman noted: "Roy is right to focus on the ways that both the techniques and ideologies of terror have crossed borders and grafted themselves onto an Islam that, in the past, was largely unfamiliar with them." Henry Munson, writing in the Middle East Journal, commented: "Roy is a knowledgeable and insightful scholar, and he makes many important points."

Roy is also coauthor with Farhad Khosrokhavar of Iran: comment sortir d'une révolution religieuse ("Iran: How to Exit a Religious Revolution"). The book focuses on the country of Iran two decades after its revolution against Western influence and the establishment of an Islamic state. Roy collaborated with Mariam Abou Zahab to write Islamist Networks: The Afghan-Pakistan Connection. As the title suggests, the book explores radical Islamic networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "The book provides intimate and detailed portraits of the major factions," wrote Michael Eros in the Middle East Journal.



American Political Science Review, September, 1995, Leonardo A. Villalon, review of The Failure of Political Islam, p. 784.

Commentary, June, 1995, Daniel Pipes, review of The Failure of Political Islam, p. 63.

Economist, October 16, 2004, review of Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, p. 80.

Europe-Asia Studies, September, 2001, Cengiz Surucu, review of The New Central Asia: The Creation of Nations, p. 962.

Foreign Affairs, November-December, 1994, William B. Quandt, review of The Failure of Political Islam, p. 179; January-February, 2005, Mahmood Mamdani, review of Globalized Islam, p. 148.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), November 20, 2004, Nader Hashemi, review of Globalized Islam, p. D16.

Middle East Journal, summer, 2000, review of Iran: comment sortir d'une révolution religieuse, p. 494; winter, 2005, Michael Eros, review of Islamist Networks: The Afghan-Pakistan Connection, p. 171; winter, 2005, Henry Munson, review of Globalized Islam, p. 161.

New York Times Book Review, February 6, 2005, Noah Feldman, review of Globalized Islam, p. 28.

Review of Politics, spring, 1998, Charles E. Butterworth, review of The Failure of Political Islam, p. 372.


Centre d'Études et de Recherches Internationales (CERI), (July 18, 2006), faculty profile of author.

Institute of International Studies, University of Berkeley Web site, (July 16, 2006), interview with author.

SourceWatch, (July 18, 2006), profile and author quote.

About this article

Roy, Olivier 1949-

Updated About content Print Article