Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN34_09b: Comparing and contrasting the religious landscape in the European context
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Sinisa Zrinscak, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law
Location: BS.4.05B
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Fourth Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Young Muslims in Spain: Religion, Culture and Citizenship

María Jiménez-Delgado1, Diana Jareño-Ruíz1, Pablo De-Gracia-Soriano1,2

1University of Alicante, Spain; 2Universidad Complutense de Madrid

This paper is part of a wider research, development and innovation project titled Islamic Youth Identities: Gender, Education and Citizenship, funded by the Valencian Generalitat (the regional government of Valencia, Spain). Its objective is to investigate how young Muslims in Spain build their identities and how they narrate their experiences as Muslims and citizens. To this end we analysed their life stories, their cultural affiliations, their processes of identity construction and their participation in civic life, in the light of the fact that, although the Islamic youth population has Spanish nationality or they can have got it early, Muslims are seen as “other” by the rest of Spanish society. The study’s universe of analysis is young Muslim residents of the city of Alicante.

Using a qualitative method including in-depth interviews and focus groups, we analyse participants’ discourses. Results vary according to factors such as age, social class, gender and education, and show both a wide diversity of ways of being Muslim and the difficulties this group experiences in freely constructing their identities and in gaining full access to citizenship.

Religious Life In A Post-Socialist Urban Context: The Case Of Potsdam

Irene Becci1, Johann Hafner2, Helga Völkening2

1University of Lausanne, Switzerland; 2University of Potsdam, Germany

The city of Potsdam, the capital of the state of Brandenburg, hosts a very peculiar religious diversity. While its position as a neighbor of Berlin in an East German context would induce to consider it an exemplary illustration of urban secularity, it hosts a vibrant religious life which common statistics do not show. This is what a study published in September 2018 („Glaube in Potsdam“, 850 p.) shows on the basis of a descriptive presentation and in-depth analysis of 78 religious, humanistic and spiritual congregations (such as Freemasons, freethinkers, the Johannine Church, the Jugendweihe association, yoga-studios), 10 interreligious initiatives, and 11 religious endowments. The study took place between 2015 and 2018 and involved interviewing, participant observation, as well as document analysis. The presentation focuses on the six-fold categorization that has been developed in the process (history, buildings, rituals, community life, organisational structures, public outreach) and which allowed to go beyond the mapping of a diversity and highlight the impact of the historical transformations of the Prussian, Nazi, socialist and post-socialist era. The negotiations for the construction of a new synagogue, a new mosque, and the reconstruction of a garrison-church have been dominating the public space for years. In some cases the (idea of a) building unfolds such a social impact, that we considered it as an actor, too. In our presentation we will touch also upon methodological problems and focus on the historical and the spatial aspects.

From Invisibility to Voice. Minority Places of Worship and the City as a Urban Religious Field

Luca Bossi

University of Turin, Italy

Contemporary city represents a composite scenario: the coexistence of different cultures, religions and spiritualities testifies to the many forms of expression, belonging and participation of its citizens. Urban space can be seen as the social field in which the religious diversification of European societies emerges and assumes visibility. Instead of representing inert scenarios, cities contribute in shaping contemporary forms of religious life: they are the arena in which private and public actors negotiate the rules of coexistence, experiment otherness, cooperate or compete for material and symbolic resources. From this point of view, local public institutions increasingly stand at the forefront in the management of religion-driven needs. On the other side, cultural, social, economic capitals play a pivotal role in the definition of religious visibility, voice and agency. In a context dominated by political discretion, the different distribution of these resources can determine the unequal access to public funds and legal recognition, exacerbating inequalities between established and outsiders. This contribution presents the results of a research conducted in the city of Turin, Italy: based on a comparative case-study, applying archival research and interviews to privileged witnesses and stakeholders, it focus different processes of religious place-making through the lens of minority places of worship. Analysing the interplay among local politics, policies, and religious organizations in the last thirty years, the research highlight the role of capital configurations in determining minority presence in the urban religious field.

Demarcating Moral Territories: Flexible Alignment Of Religious Organizations In The Face Of Secular Pressures In Belgium

Ilay Zehra Yesil

University of Bern, Switzerland

A fundamental feature of modern imaginary is the binary opposition between the secular and the religious, which involves essentialist definitions based on timeless characteristics. Yet, secularization is more fruitfully understood not as the triumph of the secular over the religious, but as the mutual transformation of these phenomena in relation to emergence of the modern state and concomitant socio-political changes. While a secular rationale informs statecraft, law, economy and knowledge production, simultaneously re-interpretation and re-articulation of practices, symbols, beliefs, and institutions of religion occur in a manner that is commensurate with modernity. Agents of religious organizations, in this sense, are both transmitting and transforming religion in its institutional form mainly through supplying moral guidance to society. In Belgium, the institutional changes in religion unfold in a multi-faith context, which is predominated by liberal politics marginalizing religious teachings. Religious actors’ strategic positioning for drawing moral boundaries of their organizations becomes particularly evident when they negotiate being a public institution as well as representing a certain tradition. This article, drawing on in-depth interviews with agents of religious organizations, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim, finds that two factors underlie their strategies; the first is the emphasis on respect for diversity as a cherished notion of democracy in a plural context, and the second one concerns an interpretation of social dynamics created by this diversity. Islam, as the very visible minority religion that majority have to confront or react to, in a way, revitalizes the long-abated Catholic tradition as a part of majority’s identity in a comparable fashion to the religiously assertive one of the newcomers.

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