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Conf/CfP - European Languages as Muslim lingua francas, 13-14 December 2018, The Netherlands

Publish Date: Mar 14, 2018

Deadline: Apr 01, 2018

Event Dates: from Dec 13, 2018 12:00 to Dec 14, 2018 12:00

Conf/CfP - European Languages as Muslim lingua francas, 13-14 December 2018, The Netherlands

Call for papers

The conference invites papers from those working across disciplines to contribute to a two-day conference entitled “European Languages as Muslim lingua francas”, to be held at University of Amsterdam on December 13-14, 2018.

This conference intends to bring together a range of scholars who work on issues of language and Islam, to present and discuss the relationship between language, religion and social and political transformations on the local and global scales, with particular focus on contemporary developments in broader Europe. A full conference program and papers will be provided in advance of the conference. The organizers will cover the cost of airfare and hotel accommodation for all invited participants. The working language of the conference is English.

Conference Description

English-speaking Muslims, in European countries and elsewhere in the world, rely on European languages to lead their daily lives; others use French, German, Spanish and Russian as linguistic platforms to articulate their values, visions and histories of Islam, at home, in social networks, within the Muslim community, and in the broader public discourse. Also European converts to Islam manifest their new religious identity by using traditional Islamic greeting formulae and lexicon.

The conference problematizes the notion that there are “Muslim” and “non-Muslim” languages. Historically, also Arabic, Turkic and Persian underwent an Islamization process, and all of these languages have continued to be used by non-Muslim speakers and writers. To give but two examples, Arabic is also the language of Orthodox Christianity in the Middle East, and Tatar continues to be used by Orthodox Tatars. At the same time Slavic languages like Bulgarian and Bosnian are native languages of significant Muslim communities in the Balkans (as was Spanish in Andalusia), with a long history of interaction with the non-Muslim environment.

The program wants to explore the obvious shifts that occur when a traditionally Christian religious lexicon is used for expressing Islamic contents, or, conversely, when such pre-existent religious terminology is shunned and replaced by the introduction of Arabic/Turkic Islamic loan words into European languages. Equally of interest is how over time, these loans or redefinitions undergo processes of codification. In each particular language, Islamization comes in many variants, and beyond the lexicon, it also changes phonetics, grammar, and syntax. Furthermore, Muslim youth slangs have their own ways of employing Islamic references; and some Islamic organizations try to shape the new European Muslim languages by way of concerted translation projects. At the same time, individual speakers and authors can engage in code-shifting, depending on which audience they want to reach.

These linguistic phenomena invite for comparative studies, in conjunction with Islamic studies on how form and contents are related. Which strategies do particular Muslim authors and communities employ when they either “Arabize” their European language or embrace pre-existent terminologies?  What is the relation between these choices, their semantic implications, and their Islamic and socio-political standpoints?

Topics/Sections at the conference might include (but are not limited to):

  • Religious vocabulary in the translation of sacred texts (e.g., translations of the Qur’an, Bible, important Islamic works)
  • Vocabulary of religious identity and piety in testimonies of personal religious experience (e.g., conversion narratives, autobiographies, social network entrees);
  • Languages of religious mission and knowledge exchange;
  • Religious authorities and their use of language in religious rituals, ceremonies;
  • Language of diasporic religious communities

Selection Process

The deadline for paper proposals (500-1000 words) is 1 April 2018 (to g.sibgatullina at A selection of participants on the basis of these proposals will be communicated to the applicants by 1 May.

Participation is conditioned on the contributors’ readiness to engage with each other’s work. Full draft papers will be collected by 1 November 2018; these will then be circulated among the participants, with the understanding that each paper is read by at least three participants. During the conference each paper will be presented only in brief form, and most time will be given to the discussion of the papers.

The organizers intend to publish the most promising paper in the form of a volume with a respected academic publisher.

Conference organization

The conference is part of the joint research project “The Russian Language of Islam” conducted at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Leiden University (LU). The project is sponsored by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

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