The collaborative research project on “Muslims in Europe and Their Societies of Origin in Asia and Africa” invites contributions to a conference to be held from 7 to 9 May 2009 at the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin, Germany. This conference will present the results of the programme for the current research phase embedded in a wider context of academic scholarship. In consonance with the project the conference will discuss the various ways in which religious actors and institutions of Is-lam are taking root in today’s Europe. While recent scholarship has primarily focused on processes of secularisation of Muslims in Europe, this conference seeks to go further by discussing Muslim groups and individuals following religious lifestyles. In this process issues have emerged that have preoccupied politicians, public opinion as much as scholars through-out the last decades: Can European social and political realities be reconciled with growing religious plurality in general and religious projects de-riving from Islam in particular – and if so, on what premises? What are the concepts, aims, needs and fears Muslim actors pursue and confront in the public arena, and what institutions do they develop to channel their objectives? To what extent are European political and social realities reflected or inscribed in their religious, political, social and economic activities?
These processes have largely been shaped by the emergence of national and pan-European policies on Islam. While Muslim actors have been seek-ing a greater say in local and European affairs, governments have reflected and incorporated public apprehensions about security, integration and identity. Some scholars have argued that European policies have largely focused on the control of Muslim communities, whereas public authorities and the media tend to accuse Muslim organisations of being rigid and divisive in their impact on social life.
At the same time Muslim communities have been shaped by intense ex-change and interaction with their societies of origin in Asia and Africa, creating dynamic flows in and out of Europe that generate both opportunities and apprehensions.
The conference will thus seek to address issues related to Muslims’ religious practice as well as the institutional settings and translocal dynamics of European societies. It will be held in two consecutive sections:
1. Islamic actors and institutions in Europe
This section will include 3 panels on
• Islamic Mission,
• Islamic Education, and
• Islamic practice of organised Muslims.
Here papers will be expected to discuss the evolution and nature of specific actors and institutions. While panels 1 and 2 will be devoted to various forms of Islamic mission and education, panel 3 will allow addressing cross-cutting topics such as gender, morality or religious practice and ritual. The panels thereby trace the differentiation and expansion of religious lifeworlds of Islam in the minority context of a secularised Europe. These are areas much driven by the concerns of Muslim activism. They reflect various forms of adaptation to the local environment as well as the search for legitimation and religious authority under new conditions.
2. On the European and translocal character of Islamic mobilisation
This section will include 3 panels on
• institutional and legal arrangements of state, nation and religion which have affected Muslim settlement in Europe,
• emerging national or supranational governance of Islam in Europe, and
• translocal dynamics with Islamic societies in Asia and Africa with a specific focus on (post)colonial legacies.
The panels will primarily address political, social and legal conditions and issues connected with the processes of living Islam in the European con-text. The panels thus account in the first place for the impact of various national European settings in which Muslims live and interact. They also respond to the fact that Muslims in Europe have been influenced and shaped by intense exchange and interaction with Islamic societies in Asia and Africa.
Researchers are invited to submit papers discussing the aforementioned concerns and fitting the suggested panels. Applications should include a brief summary of the paper (max. 1 page) accompanied by a curriculum vitae of max. 1 page. These should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org latest by 15 September 2008. All proposals and paper should be written in English.
Accepted papers will be published as part of the planned conference volume. Priority will be given to the presentation of original research. The final papers will circulate in advance among the participants to facilitate discussion. They have to be submitted by March 31, 2009. The editing of the papers for publication should be completed by 1 June 2009. For participants whose proposals are selected there is a limited budget to cover travel cost and accommodation. Please indicate whether you intend to claim the refund. The decision will be taken by the selection commit-tee.
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