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Transnational Study of Public Controversies around Islam in Europe
Conference Program Draft
4 Rue de Chevreuse 75006 Paris
October 13, 2011
Welcome and Introduction
Nilüfer Göle, Professor of Sociology at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, CESPRA, Paris, and the Director of Europublicislam Project
Session I: Publics and Controversies
How do we define the terms of “controversy”, “debate” and “polemic”? What are the conceptual differences between these terms? Which one of them is more conducive in understanding and conceptualizing the creation of publics?
Session II: Sexuality, Body and Religion
Debates and controversies around the veil and burqa reveal a kind of presumably neutral-universal norms in relation to sexuality and women’s self-presentation in European public life. The bodily practices of Muslim actors challenge these norms which are seen founded on the secular and egalitarian values of the European public sphere.
October 14, 2011
Session III: Faith, Praying, Mosques
The events of Muslim public praying and minaret-controversies illustrate the ways in which Muslim pious actors stage their difference in the European public spaces, problematizing thereby established view and sentiments of attachment to the cityscapes and urban patrimony. Construction of mosques also brings forth the quests for finding new architectural and aesthetic forms that are imagined to be suitable for and desirable by all European citizens.
Session IV: Art, Sacred, and Blasphemy
The debates around the freedom of expression as the quintessential European value become increasingly linked to Islam’s perceived intolerance toward Occidental art forms. On the other hand, the artistic realm has become the space for the interpenetration and mutual change through confrontation. The controversies on art, sacred and blasphemy expose a two-way process in which Islam enters more and more deeply the European artistic imagination while Muslims redefine what is beautiful and artistic, and propose the notion of responsibility for rethinking the limits of freedom of expression.
October 15, 2011
Session V: Rights, Jurisprudence, Islamic Law
The declarations of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in favor of introducing some parts of the Sharia Law into the British Law by deconstructing both the Sharia and the Enlightenment have inflamed heated debates in the Great Britain and created deep repercussions resonating across Europe. Sharia infiltrates in one way or another Muslim and non-Muslim Europeans’ quotidian experiences through the issues of and debates around religious marriage, divorce, and halal food. The debates push us to reflect upon and reconsider certain ethical issues ranging from sexual rights and regimes to animal rights and dietary habits.
Session VI: Post-Immigration and Post-Secular Publics________________________________________
Debates and controversies around Islam bring forth the question of religious and cultural difference in European democracies. Established ways of framing difference and pluralism by means of reference to Universalism, multiculturalism and minority rights are losing their heuristic force and political appeal. New approaches try to capture cultural and religious differences in reference to interculturalism and post-secular paradigm.