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Workshop/CfP - Religious? Secular? Re-thinking Islam and Space in Europe, 30 Nov - 1 Dec, 2017, University of Cambridge, UK



September 17, 2017


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Workshop Call for Papers: "Religious? Secular? Re-thinking Islam and Space in Europe"
University of Cambridge, 30th November - 1st December 2017


We invite scholars to present their work for a two-day inter-disciplinary workshop, "Religious? Secular? Re-thinking Islam and Space in Europe".

This workshop offers a much-needed opportunity to evaluate questions of space within the study of Islam in Europe. It will take place at the University of Cambridge on 30th November - 1st December, bringing together established academic speakers and postgraduate researchers.

The workshop will be inter-disciplinary in character, connecting fields such as religious studies, geography, politics, anthropology, and architecture. We will look to tackle the subject both in breadth (in terms of content and concepts under discussion) and depth (with particular, but not exclusive, interests in German and UK contexts).

Confirmed keynote speakers are Professor Kim Knott (Lancaster University), Professor Riem Spielhaus (University of Göttingen), and Dr. Marian Burchardt (University of Leipzig).

From identity-framed accounts of territory to contests over mosque construction, questions associated with Islam and space underlie major academic and public sphere debates in contemporary Europe (Fadil 2013; Hopkins and Gale 2008; DeHanas and Zacharias 2011; Baker 2017). The extent of these enquiries is broad, affecting scholarly topics such as place, networks, and the dynamics of identity, as well as familiar policy issues such as values, migration, and political participation (Amir-Moazami 2018; Knott 2005; Minkenberg 2014; Walters 2010). Most recently, both the Alternative für Deutschland and supporters of Brexit have made the presence of Muslims in Europe a key point of their rhetoric. At the same time, ever more sophisticated studies of “local Islams” try to point out the differences of Muslim life worlds varying not only depending on national and ethnic backgrounds, but also with regards to spatially refined levels of analysis such as neighbourhoods, networks, or single mosques (Schiffauer 2014).

The premise of this workshop is that the place of “space” within the study of Islam in Europe has lacked systematic examination. We are therefore looking to bring together researchers tackling questions of space in this field from a range of disciplinary and thematic perspectives, in order to explore challenges and suggest solutions for theoretical, conceptual, and methodological debates associated with the topic.

We invite proposals that engage with one or more of the following questions:
- What theories, concepts and methods are most useful in order to investigate the intersections of Islam, secularism/secularity and different dimensions of space in Europe?
- What are the benefits and limitations of utilising space as an analytical lens in the study of Islam and Muslims in Europe?
- How does space connect with other topics associated with the study of Islam in Europe, such as conversion, the state, ethnicity, or the family?
- How should researchers analyse the spatial implications of major scholarly challenges such as debates over Islamic exceptionalism, or the contestation of binaries (e.g., "religious"/"secular", "public"/"private")?
- How do particular research contexts require the use of different space-related concepts, such as territory, network, scale, dispositif, or assemblage?
- How can researchers navigate methodological challenges in the study of Islam and space in Europe?
- Why might symbolic and material contestations and/or collaborations be framed in terms of notions of space, and is space an adequate analytical tool in these instances?
- How should we study the role(s) of governmentality in spaces marked as “religious” and “non-religious” (e.g., spheres, publics)?
- How can a critical evaluation of the categories of "Islam", “Religion”, “Secularism”, and/or "Europe" inform the study of space?
- What can material and sensory approaches (e.g., architecture, media, and orality) to the study of Islam and space reveal?
- How do insights gained within Gender Studies and Postcolonial Theory with regard to agency, power and (subversive) knowledge production relate to a space-sensitive analysis of Islam in Europe?


The format will involve distributing workshop papers (c. 2500-3000 words) two weeks ahead of the workshop (16th November), in order to ensure in-depth engagement with every contribution. Following the workshop, participants will be invited to submit developed papers for a special issue of a leading journal.

To Apply...
To apply, please send an abstract (max 400 words) and biography (max 200 words) to Abstracts from postgraduate students and early career researchers are especially welcome, and expenses for speakers’ accommodation and travel will be available. The closing date for proposals is 17th September, with decisions communicated by 25th September.

We are most grateful for the sponsorship of DAAD Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies ( and Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies (

Organising Committee
Adela Taleb (Humboldt University Berlin), Tobias Müller (University of Cambridge), Chris Moses (University of Cambridge). 

For any queries, please contact us at:

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