Konfiguration des Säkularen. Einblicke in die kritische Säkularismusforschung
This article is part of the TRAFO series “Emerging Topics. Insights from ‘Behind the Scenes’” Today, we put the spotlight on the lecture series “Konfiguration des Säkularen. Einblicke in die kritische Säkularismusforschung” in the summer term 2017 at the Institute for Islamic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin.
Our Guest today is Schirin Amir-Moazami. She is Professor for Islam in Europe at the department of Islamic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin and a Principal Investigator at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies. Her research interests include Critical Theory, Secularism, Islamic movements in Europe, political theories and gender issues. Schirin Amir-Moazami is a Guest Editor of the TRAFO-Blog series Provincializing Epistemologies. She is currently preparing her forthcoming book on “Interrogating the Muslim Subject: The Politics of Integration in Contemporary Germany”.
Please find the program of the lecture series here
Why did you organize the lecture series “Konfiguration des Säkularen. Einblicke in die kritische Säkularismusforschung” at Freie Universität Berlin and what were you hoping to achieve?
It has become common sense within various relevant disciplines to question, refine or even abandon the prescriptive and teleological narratives entailed in the secularization thesis across Europe. The critical scholarship on political secularism and the powers of secular governance to define, confine but also produce “religion”, however, has still reached very little resonance especially in Germany. On a general level, the aim of this lecture series is therefore to make these scholarly discussions audible to broader academic public. More specifically, the lecture series is coupled with an MA seminar within the curriculum on Islam in Europe in Islamic Studies. In this field critical investigations of political secularism are all the more salient, as Muslim’s (in-)compatibility with liberal-secular orders is recurrently measured in terms of their achievements to secularize. Rather than applauding to or negating such calls, the aim of this series is to problematize the very assumptions that undergird them: What exactly is invoked in such demands? What are the presuppositions about how a religion should look like, if secularized? What are its epistemologies and its genealogies? Which role do modern secular nation-states play in the management of the borders between the religious and the secular etc.?
Does the lecture series include transregional perspectives? How can they enrich the debate on secularism?
Critical secular studies scholarship have made quite clear that the emergence of secularism as both a doctrine and as a form of governance cannot be disentangled from the imperial and colonial legacy of Europe. A critique of secularism in this regard entails a post-colonial critique too and is therefore intrinsically transregional. Many of the speakers in one way or another are scholars of Islam. The question if and how secularism has become hegemonic globally and thereby a conscription for non-Christian traditions but also how it is entirely rejected or demonized are thus relevant questions addressed in the series.
How would you like to influence the research debate in the future, and do you have plans following up on the lecture series?
The lecture series is part of an ongoing conversation amongst a limited scope of international scholarship and students on critical secular studies. I hope to continue, enlarge but also refine these conversations and I hope in particular to critically speak back to the scholarship of those disciplines that tend to avoid questions of power when it comes to the study of religion and secularism, including their own involvement in hegemonic forms of knowledge production.
Further contributions to the TRAFO series „Emerging Topics“:
- Transregionale Verflechtungen: Räumliche Zusammenhänge jenseits etablierter Metageographien – Interview with Steffen Wippel, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 27.04.2017
- Heritage, Decolonisation and the Field – Interview with William Carruthers, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 10.04.2017.
- „What Makes a Man? Sexuality and Representation in Europe-Middle East Encounters“ – Interview with Tarek El-Ariss, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 07.04.2017.
- Making and Changing Spaces of Action under the Global Condition – Interview with Martina Keilbach, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 31.03.2017.
- Practices and Processes of Space-making under the Global Condition – Interview with Steffi Marung, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 16.02.2017.
- Stepping Back in Time. Living History and Other Performative Approaches to History in Central and South-Eastern Europe, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 17.02.2017, guest contribution by Sabine Stach (German Historical Institute Warschau).
Citation: Konfiguration des Säkularen. Einblicke in die kritische Säkularismusforschung – Interview with Schirin Amir-Moazami, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 09.05.2017, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/6654.