Anti-Muslim voices have become louder in many places in the midst of ongoing atrocities undertaken in the name of Islam. As a result, much of the creative participation of Western Muslims in the public sphere has become overshadowed. This tendency is not only visible in political discussions and the media landscape, but it is also often reflected in academia where research about Muslims in the West is predominantly shaped by the post 9/11 narrative. In contrast, European Muslims Transforming the Public Sphere offers a paradigm shift. It puts forward a new approach to understanding minority public engagement, suggesting that we need to go beyond conceptualisations that look at Muslims in the West mainly through the minority lens. By bringing into dialogue minority-specific and non-minority specific concepts, the book offers a relevant complement.
Using young German Muslims engaged in media, the arts and culture and civil society as ten case studies, this book utilises the concepts of counterpublics and participatory culture to re-examine Muslims' engagement within the European public sphere. It presents a qualitative analysis, which has resulted from two years of ethnographic fieldwork and participant observation, in-depth interviews and primary source analysis of material produced by the research participants.
This book is a unique insight into the outworking of multiculturalism in Western Europe. It illustrates the many-sidedness of young Muslims’ public contributions, revealing how they transform European public spheres in different ways. Therefore, it will be a vital resource for any scholar involved in Islamic Studies, the Sociology of Religion, Religious Studies, Cultural Studies and Media Studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1 Review of Literature and Theoretical Framework 2 German Muslim Identity-An Inside Perspective 3 Participatory Culture: Strong Counterpublics 4 Participatory Culture: Soft Counterpublics 5 Participatory Culture: Beyond Counterpublics Conclusion
Asmaa Soliman is a Visiting Research Fellow at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies and at LSE’s European Institute, both in the UK. She has previously worked at Maastricht University, the Economic and Social Research Council UK, the University of East London, Aljazeera English, Qantara-Deutsche Welle, Arts Versa, the European Network against Racism, Alhayah TV and Alaraby TV. Her major research interests include the sociology of religion, Islam in Europe, religion and the arts, religion and media, religion and the public sphere, intercultural relations, youth culture, identity, multiculturalism, migration, Europe-Middle East relations.
'Asmaa Soliman illuminates in a particular way how Muslims are becoming part of Europe. She focuses on a group of young Muslims in Germany who had a strong sense of being and wanting to be Muslims and an equally strong sense of being Germans, and who wanted to reconcile this for themselves and to be accepted as such by others. She shows how they are creatively participating in the arts, media and civil society and in the process both developing new identities for themselves and transforming the public sphere they are participating in. In this way her study is an alternative to the ‘us-them’ dualistic approaches and shows that if we go beyond issues of cultural threat and exclusionary politics, we not only open up new areas of research but intimations of our future. This is a pioneering study pointing to more hopeful times.'
Tariq Modood, FBA, University of Bristol, UK
'In a context where debates on Muslims in Europe are stifled with discussions of integration, terrorism, and discrimination, Soliman’s works on European Muslims’ participation in the arts, media and civil society provides a fresh perspective. She shows that these young Muslims are at the forefront of a new religious public sphere that cuts across religious boundaries'
Esra Özyürek, European Institute, London School of Economics, UK
'In contrast to the outpouring of research on the ‘problem’ of Muslims in Europe, here is a book which considers how young Muslims are contributing to a range of participatory cultures, including music, acting, poetry, blogging, art, film and volunteering. It’s refreshing and revealing, and it opens the door to a whole new approach.'
Linda Woodhead, Lancaster University, UK