Beyond the domestication of Islam in Europe: A reflection on past and future research on Islam in European societies

in Journal of Muslims in Europe
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Within two decades Islam in European societies has developed from an issue of minor academic interest into one of the fastest growing research fields. The main reason for this is no doubt the emergence of new regimes of governmentality in most countries in Europe that emanate from the complex relationship between integration, and political priorities of security and national identity, the ‘domestication of Islam’. The narrowing down of research foci in the field of Islam in Europe has caused a serious academic neglect particularly where it concerns the entanglement of Islamic practices with everyday life, the religious engagements, expressions and experiences among young people, and the transformation and reconfiguration of Islamic authority. These three fields are of course closely connected, but also have their specific features and dynamics. The article explores these fields of research beyond the domestication paradigm.

Beyond the domestication of Islam in Europe: A reflection on past and future research on Islam in European societies

in Journal of Muslims in Europe



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In that respect Caldwell (2009) is completely wrong when he argues that European governments were lenient towards religious diversity. Quite the contrary from the early 1990s onwards European politicians expressed their sometimes deep worries about the future of ‘our liberal and secular accomplishments’.


Marsden (2005) did research in Chitral in Northern Pakistan and introduces the term ‘living Islam’ which is rather close to my understanding of ‘everyday Islam’. According to Marsden it refers to practices outlooks moods notions of personhood networks of daily encounter and individual creativity that are overruled by ‘Islamization’ by islamists and governments and overlooked by scholars of Islam who tend to apply normative understandings of Islam. Marsden provides an intriguing account of the reflexivity of ordinary people. He shows how religion and sociality in Chitral interconnect in daily situations.


Thus Nederveen Pieterse (1997) has argued that it is not the manifold religious practices that travel only the Quran is portable.


See also Hirschkind 2006.


See e.g Orsi (1999) on religion in New York.


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