Workshop: "Religion as a Changing Category of Muslim Practice"

This one-day workshop focused on ‘religion’ as a changing category in modern Muslim practice.  Participants were invited to share case studies from their research as a basis for discussion of the possible insights to be gained by bringing critical approaches to the category ‘religion’ to bear on our study of Islam. 

The aim of the meeting was to support and encourage such fledgling studies, sharing both methods and findings in order to identify: effective methodologies; a useful conceptual vocabulary; common patterns among diverse case studies; degrees of variation across contexts; and potential new avenues for research.

Details:  Scroll down or click here to see the full programme, or click here to see the original Call for Papers.

Organisers:  Alex Henley and Nabeelah Jaffer, Faculty of Theology & Religion, University of Oxford.

Sponsors:  This workshop was co-sponsored by the British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS) and Pembroke College, Oxford.  It was an initiative of the ‘Categories of Religion and the Secular in Islam’ Research Network, which aims to foster new research at the intersection of critical theory in Religion and Islamic Studies.

workshop poster

Workshop Programme

Click here for a printable version of the programme.
Opening remarks from Armando Salvatore (Religious Studies, McGill University)
Unraveling the conundrum of religion in the study of Islam: Between Theology, Religious Studies and Social Theory.
Panel 1:  Classical discourses in modern perspective
Chair:  Christopher Melchert (Oriental Studies, Pembroke College, Oxford)
Bashir Saade (Religion and Politics, University of Stirling)
A few thoughts on the relation between dīn and milla: Implications on the modern ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ imagination.
Tayseer Abu Odeh (Comparative Literature, Arab Open University)
The secular-religious dichotomy in Islam: Avicenna and al-Razi’s counterpoint and the paradox of Theology (kalām).
Panel 2:  Discourses of religion in modern history
Chair:  Justin Jones (Theology and Religion, Pembroke College, Oxford)
Ayse Polat (Sociology, Istanbul Medeniyet University)
Mapping out late Ottoman terms for religion and irreligion.
Brannon Ingram (Religious Studies, Northwestern University)
Islamism’s dīn: Boundaries of ‘religion’ in Mawdudi and his successors.
Panel 3:  Demarcating religion in modern states
Chair:  Nabeelah Jaffer (Theology and Religion, Pembroke College, Oxford)
Alex Henley (Theology and Religion, University of Oxford)
Religion as a category of institutional practice in Middle Eastern states.
Besnik Sinani (Grad School of Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität Berlin)
Entertainment projects as markers of religious reform: The shift in scope and sphere of religion in Saudi Arabia.
Panel 4:  Ethnographies of religion in Muslim practice
Chair:  Morgan Clarke (Anthropology, Keble College, Oxford)
Emanuelle Degli Esposti (Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge)
Charity as ritual: Religion, identity, and the unsettling of secular humanitarianism in Shi‘a Islam.
Liza Franke (Anthropology, Georg-August University Göttingen)
Searching for individual (non-)religious identities in Alexandria.
Giorgia Baldi (Law, University of Sussex)
Re-thinking Islam and Islamism: Hamas women between religion, secularism and neo-liberalism.
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