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Dr. Florian Zemmin

Areas of Interest

  • Islamic intellectual history, in Arabic and (Ottoman-)Turkish
  • Religion and society
  • Genealogies of modernity
  • History of concepts, historical semantics
  • Sociology of religion

Research project: Arabic Sociologies of Religion

Religious transformations form part of the broader changes that Arab societies underwent in recent years. These transformations are accompanied by an increasing number of Arabic works on the sociology of religion – works that aim not only at understanding, but also at shaping societal changes. This sociological production faces several challenges in many Arab countries: next to economic and political conditions impacting research, many post-colonial scholars consider sociology to be a European science and regard its usage in and for Arab societies with suspicion. Such critique often focuses on religion – due to the societal importance of religion in Arab societies, on the one hand, and, on the other, sociology being considered a decidedly secular science.

How, then, do sociological approaches to religion in Arab societies and in Arabic look exactly? Where and by whom are they being carried out; and under which social, political and institutional conditions? What are the central topics, theories and methods? How are sociological approaches to religion being justified and what are their genealogies? What are the characteristics of Arabic sociologies of religion, and what are central commonalities and differences from European sociologies of religion? To answer these questions, this project for the first time attends to sociological knowledge production on religion in Arabic.

The project takes a cue from post-colonial critiques of sociology being a Eurocentric science, but goes a crucial step further. While this critique largely – and ironically – registers publications in English only, this project for the first time extensively engages with a concrete field of sociological knowledge production in Arabic. Only through this engagement, can we find answers to the question as to which aspects of sociology are actually more widely shared, and which are more particular. Central aspects in this regard include theories of secularization and the drawing of boundaries between religion and its others.

Biography

since April 2020

Senior Researcher, HCAS Multiple Secularities - Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities

2016–2020

Research Associate for Islamic Studies, Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Bern (Switzerland)

​2017–2018

Interim Professor for Islamic and Middle East Studies, University of Bern (Switzerland)

02-07/2018; 08/2019-03/2020

Senior Research Fellow, HCAS Multiple Secularities - Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities

2016

Ph.D. (Dr. phil), Islamic Studies, Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Bern (Switzerland)

2011-2016

Research Assistant (2011-2015 funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation), Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Bern (Switzerland)

2010

M.A. Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (Major) and Study of Religion (Minor) (supported by a Master Grant from the University of Bern), University of Bern (Switzerland)

2007

B.A. Cultural Studies with a Focus on Religion (Major) and Intercultural German Studies (Minor), University of Bayreuth (Germany)

Relevant Publications

  • Zemmin, Florian, Johannes Stephan, Monica Corrado (eds.): Islam in der Moderne, Moderne im Islam. Eine Festschrift für Reinhard Schulze zum 65. Geburtstag. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2018.
  • Zemmin, Florian (2018). “[Review of] Wael Abu-ʿUksa: Freedom in the Arab World: Concepts and Ideologies in Arabic Thought in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.” Die Welt des Islams 58/1: 65–68.
  • Zemmin, Florian, Colin Jager, and Guido Vanheeswijck, eds. (2016). Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor's Master Narrative. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.
  • Zemmin, Florian, Colin Jager, and Guido Vanheeswijck (2016). “Introduction.” In Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor's Master Narrative. Edited by Florian Zemmin, Colin Jager and Guido Vanheeswijck, 1–19. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.
  • Zemmin, Florian (2016). “A Secular Age and Islamic Modernism.” In Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor's Master Narrative. Edited by Florian Zemmin, Colin Jager and Guido Vanheeswijck, 307–30. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.
  • Zemmin, Florian (2016). “An Annotated Bibliography of Responses to A Secular Age.” In Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor's Master Narrative. Edited by Florian Zemmin, Colin Jager and Guido Vanheeswijck, 385–420. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter
  • Zemmin, Florian (2016). “Modernity without Society? Observations on the term mujtamaʿ in the Islamic Journal al-Manār (Cairo, 1898–1940).” Die Welt des Islams 56/2: 223–47.
  • Zemmin, Florian (2015). “Integrating Islamic Positions into European Public Discourse: The Paradigmatic Example of Tariq Ramadan.” Journal of Religion in Europe 8/1: 121–46.
  • Zemmin, Florian (2012). “Vom gesellschaftlichen Engagement für den Islam zum islamischen Engagement für die Gesellschaft: Verschiebungen in Tariq Ramadans Plädoyer für eine ganzheitliche Moderne.Asiatische Studien 66/3: 749–810.
  • Zemmin, Florian (2011). Islamische Verantwortungsethik im 17. Jahrhundert: Ein weberianisches Verständnis der Handlungsvorstellungen Kātib Čelebis (1609-1657). Bonner Islamstudien 26. Edited by Stephan Conermann. Schenefeld: E. B. Braun.