WATCH: Istanbul — A Multi-Perspectival City (Göknar, Kafadar, Aydin)
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via JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN CENTER/YOUTUBE on APRIL 22, 2015:
Professor Erdağ Göknar sits down with Professors Cemal Kafadar and Cemil Aydin to discuss the various versions and “revisions” of Istanbul through the ages.
Göknar is an Associate Professor of Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. Kafadar is a Professor of Turkish Studies at Harvard University. Aydin is a Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
This conversation was made possible by the Rethinking Global Cities project, a Duke University project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s “Partnership in a Global Age.”
How the Occupation of Istanbul Shaped the Modern Middle East (on Goknar’s recent Langford lecture, by Julie Poucher Harbin for Duke Today)
by Banu Gökarıksel and Anna Secor for POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY (VOL. 46, MAY 2015, PAGES 21-20) * Creative Commons license:
Post-secularism and the problem of pluralism
“There has to be respect”: the demands of pluralism
“That’s a matter of attitude”: the limits of pluralism in public space
•The project of post-secularism hinges on the form of pluralism in the public sphere.
•Findings are based on focus groups with devout women in Istanbul in 2013.
•Respect mediates relations with others across public/private spaces but has limits.
•Devout women may be uncomfortable with other lifestyles (alcohol) in shared spaces.
•Post-secularism is not an achieved state but a project, a struggle with its demands.
The concept of post-secularism has come to signify a renewed attention to the role of religion within secular, democratic public spheres. Central to the project of post-secularism is the integration of religious ways of being within a public arena shared by others who may practice different faiths, practice the same faith differently, or be non-religious in outlook. As a secular state within which Sunni Islam has played an increasingly public role, Turkey is a prime site for studying new configurations of religion, politics, and public life. Our 2013 research with devout Sunni Muslim women in Istanbul demonstrates how the big questions of post-secularism and the problem of pluralism are posed and navigated within the quotidian geographies of homes, neighborhoods, and city spaces. Women grapple with the demands of a pluralistic public sphere on their own terms and in ways that traverse and call into question the distinction between public and private spaces. While mutual respect mediates relations with diverse others, women often find themselves up against the limits of respect, both in their intimate relations with Alevi friends and neighbors, and in the anonymous spaces of the city where they sometimes find themselves subject to secular hostility. The gendered moral order of public space that positions devout headscarf-wearing women in a particular way within diverse city spaces where others may be consuming alcohol or wearing revealing clothing further complicates the problem of pluralism in the city. We conclude that one does not perhaps arrive at post-secularism so much as struggle with its demands.
LISTEN: M. Brett Wilson on “Translating the Qur’an in an Age of Nationalism: Print Culture and Modern Islam in Turkey”
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by KRISTIAN PETERSEN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on APRIL 6, 2015:
Muslim debates regarding the translation of the Qur’an are very old. However, during the modern period they became heated because local communities around the globe were rethinking their relationship to scripture in new social and political settings. M. Brett Wilson, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College, provides a rich history of how this conversation unfolding with the late Ottoman period and Republic of Turkey in Translating the Qur’an in an Age of Nationalism: Print Culture and Modern Islam in Turkey (Oxford University Press, 2014).
The Qur’an’s translatability is contested from various perspectives (both old and new) but emerging print technologies, shifting political authority, and changing economies of knowledge production offer contemporary challenges that mark the demand for Turkish translations. Wilson narrates the production of vernacular interpretations and commentaries, unofficial translations, and a state-sponsored project. In many cases, translation was viewed as a tool of progress, modernization, and Turkish nationalism. For others, it led to vernacular ritual practice and the disharmony of the global Muslim community. Continue reading →
Islamic Liberation Theology is the Need of the Hour (by Junaid S. Ahmad & Sania Sufi)
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“The various religious expressions emerging in contemporary times in post-colonial Muslim societies also make themselves irrelevant as they cater to the demands of local elites (and very often, their Western backers) and not to those of the bulk of the population who yearn for a praxis-based theology offering a better existence in the here and now. In such conditions, Muslims must dig through the Islamic canon for a discourse far more liberating than merely the negation of beheadings or senseless violence or intolerance.”
by JUNAID S. AHMAD and SANIA SUFI for ISLAMiCommentary on APRIL 13, 2015:
When reading dominant narratives about the Muslim world today, we are at pains to escape the imagery of beheadings, stonings, suicide bombings and ‘senseless’ violence in general. The picture has obtained its most concrete manifestation in the form of ISIS. The ‘Islamic State’ seems to embody all that is wrong with a people who have clearly not kept up with the pace of history, and in fact now are trying to offer an atavistic, medieval alternative to it.
However, a critical unpacking of the ideology behind ISIS — however millenarian and myopic it may be — reveals legitimate grievances rooted in an unjust global political architecture which exploits, dehumanizes, and fuels violence among Muslims the world over.
While political expressions of Islam have existed over the past century, the vicious, reactionary, and most obscurantist forms of such currents got their steroid injections through the Western-backed “jihad” against the Communists in Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is clearly the first period of ‘radicalization’ — cradled, nurtured, and advanced by the powerful for their narrow, secular realpolitik. Continue reading →
“The Impact of Russia’s Annexation of the Crimea on the Central Eurasian Islamic World” with Charles Weller from ACMCU on Vimeo.
CHARLES WELLER speaks at the ALWALEED BIN TALAL CENTER FOR MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING(At GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY) (recorded on March 19, 2015):
Dr. Weller’s talk focused on four main, interrelated dimensions of the impact of the Crimean and Ukrainian Crises on the Central Eurasian Islamic World: (1) The response of the Crimean Tatar community and impact on Russo-Tatar relations within the Crimea religiously, socially, and politically; (2) Responses among related Turkic Muslim groups of Central Eurasia, particularly the Turks of Turkey, the Volga Tatars within the Russian Federation, and the Kazakh Muslims of Kazakhstan, with related reflections upon the impact of the crises upon Russo-Turkish relations politically, Russo-Volga Tatar relations socially and politically within Tatarstan, and Russo-Kazakh relations socially and politically within Kazakhstan; (3) the (potential) impact upon Russo-Chinese relations politically in connection with the Uighur independence movement; and (4) Responses from across the broader Muslim world, particularly the Middle Eastern and Western worlds. Continue reading →