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Here you will find an overview of the journal articles and articles published in edited volumes by the research group and its members.

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2022

On Secularity and Secularism in the Arab and Islamicate World: Butrus al-Bustani’s ‘The Clarion of Syria’

Housamedden Darwish

On Secularity and Secularism in the Arab and Islamicate World: Butrus al-Bustani’s ‘The Clarion of Syria’

This paper aims to critically discuss the concepts of secularity and secularism, and their pioneering formulation, in the Arab-Islamicate world(s), and proposes that this took place, in Butrus al-Bustani’s The Clarion of Syria (1860–1861). It is conceptually based on the possibility and necessity of distinguishing between ‘secularity’ as an analytical concept, and ‘secularism’ as a normative and ideological concept. This distinction is based on the conceptual framework adopted and developed by the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences ‘Multiple Secularities - Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities’ at the University of Leipzig. The paper begins by providing a conceptual analysis of secularity, secularism, and secularization, highlighting the differences between them as well as the epistemological and methodological necessities required to draw a distinction between them in modern and contemporary Arab thought. It also reflects on the linguistic and historical context, by looking at the concepts of secularity and secularism in Arab thought prior to al-Bustani’s The Clarion of Syria. The focus of the paper then turns to al-Bustani’s secularist conception of secularity, and his pioneering formulation of the two concepts of secularity and secularism in The Clarion of Syria. A conclusion is drawn at the end of this paper.


Darwish, Housamedden. “On Secularity and Secularism in the Arab and Islamicate World: Butrus al-Bustani’s ‘The Clarion of Syria’.” In Sharia, Secularism, and the State Towards New Horizons, 92-110. Kuwait: Nohoud Center for Studies and Research, 2022.


2022

Of Marriage, Divorce and Criminalisation: Reflections on the Triple Talaq Judgement in India

Anindita Chakrabarti, K. C. Mujeebu Rahman, and Suchandra Ghosh

Of Marriage, Divorce and Criminalisation: Reflections on the Triple Talaq Judgement in India

In India, where religion-specific laws govern issues of marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance, the family laws of Muslims – the largest religious minority – have been a thorny issue in the post-independence period. In recent years, the major intervention in Muslim personal law reform came in the form of the invalidation of instant divorce or triple talaq by the Supreme Court of India. Subsequently, a law was passed that criminalised it. By delving into a close examination of recent judicial activism and by drawing on our ethnographic work with Muslim women in India, we show that it is only by refocussing the debate from judicial discourse to legal practice that the trope of Muslim women’s victimhood and the tired debates about religious freedom versus citizenship rights can be questioned and bypassed.


Chakrabarti, Anindita, K. C. Mujeebu Rahman, and Suchandra Ghosh. "Of Marriage, Divorce and Criminalisation: Reflections on the Triple Talaq Judgement in India." Journal of Legal Anthropology 6, no. 1 (2022): 24-48.

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2022

On the Relationship between Culture/Religion and Politics: A Critique of the Culturalist Approach to Islam

Housamedden Darwish

On the Relationship between Culture/Religion and Politics: A Critique of the Culturalist Approach to Islam

The chapter aims to outline the main characteristics of the culturalist approach to Islam as an ideal type and critically analyze these characteristics. The culturalist approach views (Islamicate) culture, which is mainly reduced to its religious content or dimension, as the underlying cause behind the domination or hegemony of autocracy or political despotism in the Arab and Islamicate worlds. This approach is mainly discussed with reference to the situation in Arab and Islamicate countries, in particular Syria over the past five decades. According to culturalism, ‘Islam is the problem’ due to its intrinsic incompatibility or conflict with (political) modernity: democracy, secularity and human rights. While seeing Islam as the problem appears contradictory to the view of Islam as the solution, both are based on the same culturalist understandings, formed in: (1) a reductionist view (reducing culture to religion); (2) a flexible view; (3) an essentialist and non- or anti-historical view; (4) a dogmatic or non-hermeneutical view; (5) a mechanical and anti-dialectical view (culture affects and produces politics, not vice versa); (6) an immoral view; (7) a political position. In critically analyzing these characteristics of the culturalist approach, the chapter also considers its ethical and political dimensions or implications.


Darwish, Housamedden. "On the Relationship between Culture/Religion and Politics: A Critique of the Culturalist Approach to Islam.” In New Methods in the Study of Islam, ed. Abbas Aghdassi, and Aaron W. Hughes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022).

2022

Negotiating Modernity by Concepts of Relatedness: Towards the Construction of Malagasy Solidarity (Fihavanana Gasy)

Peter Kneitz

Among the most explicit ideas and norms of desired, pro-social behaviours in modern Malagasy society is the rhetoric around, and longing for, ‘fihavanana’, a term that can be roughly translated as ‘solidarity’. It features therefore as a very prominent aspect of relationality in Madagascar, serving as a means of control and of conflict resolution and also as a guarantee of peace. Yet there is another, very different, dimension to fihavanana that is waiting to be uncovered, which this article aims to highlight. It is in fact a battle term, coined to negotiate issues of modernity and identity. My analysis will show that the concept of ‘Malagasy solidarity’ (‘fihavanana gasy’) has its roots not in problems of violence or war but in the experience of deep social rupture produced by confrontation with European concepts of enlightenment, rationality, Christianity and secularity during the 19th century. Fears of a consequent threat to authentic Malagasy culture led, from the first half of the 20th century onwards, to the development of a new, powerful discourse on the need to recover true Malagasy values, and ‘solidarity’ was among the most prominent of those selected. This ongoing discourse and the trend towards the institutionalisation of a concept of relatedness like Malagasy solidarity should thus be understood and reframed within an identitarian logic.


Kneitz, Peter. "Negotiating Modernity by Concepts of Relatedness: Towards the Construction of Malagasy Solidarity (Fihavanana Gasy)" Journal of Southern African Studies online (2022): 1-19.

2022

Islamwissenschaft an den Grenzen von Wissenschaft, Religion und Politik: Eine feldanalytische Perspektive

Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Sana Chavoshian

Islamwissenschaft an den Grenzen von Wissenschaft, Religion und Politik: Eine feldanalytische Perspektive

Our intention in this article is twofold: first, in a historical approach and with reference to Bourdieu's field analysis, we reconstruct the autonomisation of Islamic Studies as a scientific field with its own doxa, and the challenges posed by social sciences, cultural studies, and – more recently – Islamic theology as subjects of the extended field of Islamic studies. Dynamics, demarcations and intrusions come into view. In the course of the analysis, cursory comparisons are made with the USA and France, where these challenges are accentuated and answered differently. In a second step, the positioning of academics in this field is reconstructed on the basis of open expert interviews. In this process, the attitudes to secularity – i.e. to the question of the boundaries of Islam and the demarcations of Islamic Studies as science – function as a lens through which these positionings become recognisable. Fundamental forms of determining the relationship between Islam and the West or Western modernity reverberate in the positions.


Wohlrab-Sahr, Monika, and Sana Chavoshian. "Islamwissenschaft an den Grenzen von Wissenschaft, Religion und Politik: Eine feldanalytische Perspektive." In "Islam in Europa: Institutionalisierung und Konflikt," ed. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Levent Tenzcan, special issue, Soziale Welt 25 (2022): 409–44

2022

Die Bedeutung antimuslimischer Ressentiments für die Erfolge des Rechtspopulismus in Europa: Konzeptuelle Überlegungen und empirische Befunde

Gert Pickel and Cemal Öztürk

Die Bedeutung antimuslimischer Ressentiments für die Erfolge des Rechtspopulismus in Europa: Konzeptuelle Überlegungen und empirische Befunde

Anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim rhetoric is a core feature of European right-wing populists. Based on this observation, this study sheds light on the prevalence and socio-psychological drivers of anti-Muslim prejudice and it's relevance for right-wing populist parties' mobilization success. Right-wing populists were able to capitalize on anti-Muslim prejudice by targeting their rhetoric against a religious minority that is perceived extremely negatively by citizens. The socio-psychological drivers of anti-Muslim prejudice are multifaceted: They arise from collective identities, ethnocentric-racist worldviews, economis deprivation, but above all from realistic and symbolic threat perceptions. Intergroup contact, on the other hand, can contribute to a reduction in anti-Muslim prejudice. Thus, negative attitudes toward Muslims vary greatly in Europe and are particularly pronounced in Eastern European societies, where hardly any Muslims live. Voters of right-wing populist parties tend to have stronger anti-Muslim prejudices that the mainstream of society. This interrelationsship is robust and persists even when controlling for alternative explanatory factors, and it has developed from the presence of Muslims. Paradoxically, however, right-wing populists benefited from anti-Muslim resentment in places where hardly any Muslims live. The prevalence of an anti-Muslim social climate favoured their rise to power in Eastern Europe.

 

Pickel, Gert, and Cemal Öztürk. "Die Bedeutung antimuslimischer Ressentiments für die Erfolge des Rechtspopulismus in Europa: Konzeptuelle Überlegungen und empirische Befunde." In "Islam in Europa: Institutionalisierung und Konflikt," ed. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Levent Tenzcan, special issue, Soziale Welt 25 (2022): 303-55.

2022

Neue islamische Bildungsprojekte als Domestizierung des muslimischen Selbst? Studierende der islamischen Theologie in Deutschland

Lena Dreier

Neue islamische Bildungsprojekte als Domestizierung des muslimischen Selbst? Studierende der islamischen Theologie in Deutschland

The contribution develops the thesis that the subject of Islamic theology combines experiences of "Islamicity" and new forms of knowledge. The article locates the developement at German-language universities in the context of European developement. Previous analyses of Islamic theology understand the subject as part of the intention to domesticate Islam in the West. The paper asks about the effects of such an intention in the discipline itself. Based on qualitative data, it becomes apparent that the recognition of 'Islamised' experiences in the subject is due to Islam's status as a politicised minority religion. Students are connectiong to the subject with life-world experiences of Islam. They are using these experiences in the educational system. In the long rung, this will valorise subjective experiences as part of the educational system and knowledge production. It is a particularity of societies where cultural identity has been strongly connected to Islam, that Islamic theology combines experiences that are socially produced with academic Islamic knowledge production.


Dreier, Lena. "Neue islamische Bildungsprojekte als Domestizierung des muslimischen Selbst? Studierende der islamischen Theologie in Deutschland." In "Islam in Europa: Institutionalisierung und Konflikt," ed. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Levent Tenzcan, special issue, Soziale Welt 25 (2022): 107-134.

2022

Islam in Europa: Institutionalisierung und Konflikt – Einleitung

Levent Tezcan and Monika Wohlrab-Sahr

Islam in Europa: Institutionalisierung und Konflikt – Einleitung

The presence of Islam in Europe is accompanied by contradictory dynamics. While on the one hand institutions are gradually accommodating Muslim demands and vice versa, on the other hand tendencies of Islamist and anti-Muslim radicalisation are reinforcing each other.
In addition to analyses of institutionalisation processes that entail modes of a new normality, this volume offers contributions on political Islam, anti-Muslim policies as well as on social negotiations on conflict and integration. Finally, scholarly and literary reflections are examined with regard to their normative underpinnings. The volume brings together contributions from sociologists, Islamic scholars and literary scholars.

Tezcan, Levent, and Monika Wohlrab-Sahr. "Islam in Europa: Institutionalisierung und Konflikt – Einleitung." In "Islam in Europa: Institutionalisierung und Konflikt," ed. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Levent Tenzcan, special issue, Soziale Welt 25 (2022): 7-23.

2022

Sharia, Legal Pluralism and Muslim Personal Law: Ethnographic Lessons from the Mahallu System of Malabar, India

K. C. Mujeebu Rahman and Anindita Chakrabarti

Sharia, Legal Pluralism and Muslim Personal Law: Ethnographic Lessons from the Mahallu System of Malabar, India

Contemporary public as well as academic discourse on personal law in India has over the years engaged with the issues of its inadequacies, judicialisation and uniformity. This discourse has paid scant attention to the functioning of the law and the complexities of a multicultural nation-state committed to the idea of political secularism. This paper engages with the mahallu system of Malabar and sheds light on how decision-making in Muslim personal law is a process embedded in quotidian micro-politics, sectarian dynamics, social censure and affect. By tracing a triple talaq case in its ethnographic details we show that love (or lack of it), kinship expectations and community authority come together in resolving a conjugal dispute that does not lead to a straight path of legal interpretation but into a labyrinth of micro-politics of local religious factions and authority. The paper shows that the non-state quasi-legal institutions that come under the rubric of the mahallu system comprise of a particular kind of legal pluralism which is complex and replete with multilayered relations of power. This also brings to fore the binary and the play between what is considered to be legal and legitimate.


Rahman, K. C. M., and Anindita Chakrabarti. “Sharia, Legal Pluralism and Muslim Personal Law: Ethnographic Lessons from the Mahallu System of Malabar, India.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 42, no. 1 (2022): 160–75.

2022

A Hindu Champion of Pan-Islamism: Lajpat Rai and the Khilafat Movement

Vanya Vaidehi Bhargav

A Hindu Champion of Pan-Islamism: Lajpat Rai and the Khilafat Movement

Lala Lajpat Rai is increasingly viewed in historiography as a “Hindu nationalist” with a strong affinity with Savarkarite Hindutva. This article demonstrates that during the Khilafat movement, Lajpat Rai articulated a secular Indian nationalism that was sensitive to Muslim religiosity and Indian Muslims’ extraterritorial sympathies toward the caliphate and the Muslim world. Pigeonholing the entire thought of Lajpat Rai as “Hindu nationalism” obscures a historical-intellectual juncture when a Hindu political figure like him enthusiastically supported pan-Islamism as necessary for Indian nationalism. This article complicates scholarship that portrays Hindu responses to the Khilafat movement as consisting solely of fear and counter-consolidation. More importantly, by unveiling Rai's Khilafat-era nationalism, it uncovers the intellectual and political possibility of firmly holding a Hindu identity and articulating conceptions of Indian nationhood that are at ease with Islam and the wider Muslim world.


Bhargav, Vanya Vaidehi. “A Hindu Champion of Pan-Islamism: Lajpat Rai and the Khilafat Movement.” Journal of Asian Studies (2022): 1–17.

2022

Secularity as a Point of Reference: Specific Features of a Non-Religious and Secularized Worldview in a Family across Three Generations

Christel Gärtner

Secularity as a Point of Reference: Specific Features of a Non-Religious and Secularized Worldview in a Family across Three Generations

My contribution will focus on secular and non-religious worldviews and will aim to reconstruct secular relationships with the world that develop from lived values and their transmission in the family. I will try to show in detail how a non-religious habitus develops in socialization over several generations, becomes entrenched in later biographical positioning, and shapes how a person relates to the world, including their view of religion. After a brief outline of the religious field in Germany, I will concentrate on a family case whose first generation (grandparents) grew up in the GDR. This family has had no religious socialization or child baptisms for three generations and secularity has become a positive point of reference for how its members justify their own life patterns. For the members of this non-religious family, religion still becomes selectively relevant. Using concrete situations and contexts where the family has contact with religion, I will show how these encounters become a marker for drawing boundaries. In conclusion, I will follow Quack and Schuh’s distinction between “indifference to religiosity” on the one hand, and “indifference to religion” on the other, and argue that indifference to religiosity, but not indifference to religion, can be clearly identified


Gärtner, Christel. "Secularity as a Point of Reference: Specific Features of a Non-Religious and Secularized Worldview in a Family across Three Generations." Religions 13, no. 477 (2022).


2022

The Orthodox Church, Neosecularisation, and the Rise of Anti-Gender Politics in Bulgaria

Ina Merdjanova

In a recent publication, I introduced the theoretical framework of neosecularisation with regard to the Orthodox Church and society in Bulgaria. I argued that neosecularisation, as a complex process of decline of religion’s importance and the hold of religious authority over the social system, while genealogically different from communist secularisation, explicates patterns of continuity with the communist past. Important aspects of this continuity include the persistent grassroots feminisation of the Church and the co-optation of the Church by the state. Drawing on those theoretical insights, in this paper, I seek to understand the rise of anti-gender politics in Bulgaria since 2018 in relation to the condition of neosecularisation and its impact on the Church. I argue that (neo)secularisation remains a much feared “threat” for the Church and plays a role in ecclesiastical anti-gender mobilisation. However, the Church is not a major factor in anti-gender politics in Bulgaria; the roles of far-right nationalists and certain transnationally connected evangelical actors are to be seriously considered. Furthermore, anti-genderism cannot be understood merely as a religious or cultural backlash. It needs to be discussed as a larger protest movement against liberal democracy’s failure to live up to its promises and against the pathologies of neoliberal globalisation, a movement in which the Orthodox Church is only tangentially involved


Merdjanova, Ina. “The Orthodox Church, Neosecularisation, and the Rise of Anti-Gender Politics in Bulgaria.” Religions 13, no. 4 (2022): 359.

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2022

The Orthodox Charismatic Gift

Giuseppe Tateo

The Orthodox Charismatic Gift

Based on ethnographic research conducted in a number of Orthodox parishes in Bucharest, this article discusses different conceptions of har among Bucharest Orthodox believers, practitioners, and clerics. Har stands for ‘grace’, ‘charisma’ or ‘gift’ depending on the context. An ethnographically grounded analysis of this emic concept, I argue, is essential for two main reasons. First, understanding grace through gratuity allows us to grasp diverse forms of religious change, such as committed church attendance and the detachment from communal religious life, in contemporary Romania. Second, seeing through the looking glass of Orthodox practice allows for unexplored insights into the workings of charismatic authority. The article ends with a seeming paradox: grace is ‘something extra’, an addition which is best grasped apophatically, that is, through subtraction.


Tateo, Giuseppe. "The Orthodox Charismatic Gift." The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 40, no. 1 (Spring 2022): 68-83.

2022

What is Alevism? Contemporary Debates vis-à-vis Historical and Systematic Considerations

Markus Dreßler

What is Alevism? Contemporary Debates vis-à-vis Historical and Systematic Considerations

The scholarship on Alevis and Kurds in Turkey has grown over the last three decades. The politicisation of Alevism and Kurdishness has also increased the visibility of Kurdish Alevis. In this context, Dersim (formally Tunceli) comes to the fore with a new Kurdish Alevi identity, with similarities with other Alevi communities and specific oral traditions, sacred place (jiare) practices, religious organisations, discourses and rituals. Nowadays, Kurdish Alevis mostly define themselves as Kurds, but their cultural heritage features many differences from other Kurdish communities. The purpose of this chapter is to understand Alevism (as associated with Kurdish identity) in Tunceli where – in relation to the Sunni population – Alevis constitute the majority (whilst Alevis are the biggest religious minority in Turkey). This approach will present an alternative picture of the relations between Alevi and Sunni communities.


Dreßler, Markus. “What Is Alevism? Contemporary Debates Vis-À-Vis Historical and Systematic Considerations.” In The Alevis in Modern Turkey and the Diaspora: Recognition, Mobilisation and Transformation, edited by Derya Ozkul, and Hege I. Markussen. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022.

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