"The Politics of Studying Muslim Cultures and Societies: Beyond Text and Context"
Discourse on Islam and Muslims is everywhere: from media to academia, from dinner table conversations to heated exchanges in parliaments; in the figures of refugees, terrorists, veiled women and many others it pervades contemporary debates in a way that no other topic does. This discourse that is often as variegated as it is superficial, conceals one unfortunate fact: the sheer difficulty of making Islam and Muslims intelligible in a scholarly way. We believe that the everyday politics, the social, spiritual, and cultural interactions of Muslims and their fellow citizens encompass a rich diversity that cannot be captured by a narrow research focus on migration, war and religious extremism alone. Yet, it is precisely these phenomena and the discourse they entail that are making it ever more difficult to research Islam, the Arab world, and particularly Muslims in Europe. Nuanced and differentiated accounts of the everyday life, as it is led by those at the heart of the contentious discourse on Islam, are of desperate need in order to confront orientalist and patronizing stereotypes, to counter cultural appropriations, and to balance suggestive ascriptions that dominate public discourse about Islam and Muslims, both in Europe and abroad.
Against this background, the BGSMCS’s contribution to the Long Night of Science combines reflections on both the chances that arise from the immense cultural, visual, geographical, political and socio-historical diversity of those societies in which Islam is a shaping force, and the pitfalls and methodological problems that come with conducting research in this field.
As part of this critical endeavour, we also want to reflect upon our own location in a European university and, together with the audience, think through the asymmetrical power relations created through and sustained by academia, its scientific discourses and research practices. Scientific practices and procedures, from developing a research design to data collection, from data analysis to communicating findings, are implicated in the reproduction and reinforcement of asymmetrical relations of power between the ’subjects‘ and ‚objects‘ of knowledge production. What does it mean, in this light, to address the privilege of the researcher, the privilege of creating knowledge that exerts power, and what could be means to cope with this?
Samstag, 11. Juni 2016, 17-24 Uhr
17.00−0.00 Uhr: Mitmachkurs (KL 29, im Foyer neben KL 29/135)
Write your name in different languages (Arabic, Farsi, Greek etc.), create your own bookmark.
17.00−23.00 Uhr: Ausstellung (KL 29, Foyer Hörsäle)
20 selected research projects by graduate fellows of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies from different disciplines are presented in a poster exhibition, with members of the Graduate School being present to answer questions, deepen information and engage with visitors on the presented works.
19.00−20.00 Uhr: Podiumsdiskussion “Research in a Minefield: Challenges, Ethical Concerns, and Academic Omissions” (Raum KL 29/135)
In an open panel discussion several doctoral researchers at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies discuss their difficulties in the field, engage with issues of working ethics and moral ambiguities, and reflect the field access to war torn or autocratic countries. Short inputs, which combine accounts of daily life as a PhD student in Berlin with field reports from abroad, aim at introducing the audience to certain pivotal questions faced by doctoral students conducting research in and on Muslim cultures and societies. The ensuing open discussion is moderated by Professor Dr Schirin Amir-Moazami (Institute for Islamic Studies).
Zubair Ahmad: “Questioning academia too: of disciplinary closures and disciplined researchers”
Jannis Grimm: “Research under the gun: investigating Egypt in times of repression”
Miriam Kurz: “Muslim masculinities and research ethics: access to a field under public scrutiny“
Mareike Transfeld: “In and out of Yemen: field research while a state is failing”
Moderation: Prof Dr Schirin Amir-Moazami
Ort: Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin (Rostlaube)