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Claudia Breger

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Starting from the notion of a “postsecular society” in current German debates about immigration, this essay investigates links between racism and collective identity in German debates about immigration that took place in the context of an academic as well as broader public return to “premises” during the 2000s. It explores this emerging episteme of (not always strictly religious) faith and affirmation through the newly popular philosophies of Stanley Cavell and Alain Badiou. In juxtaposing their in many respects divergent theoretical models, it develops a concept of critically affirmative reconfiguration and argues that it enables productive responses to ongoing political affirmations of collective identity. The case study is the topos of “Christian universalism,” which has been used, in significantly different ways, both in conservative and mainstream articulations of national identity (Sarrazin; “headscarf” legislations) and in Badiou’s radical counter-figuration.

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Editors Migration and Religion

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Editors Migration and Religion

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Kamaal Haque

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Discussions of the Muslim population in Germany often focus on those of Turkish, and to a lesser extent, Arab descent. This is logical, since the Turkish- and Arab-German populations are the two largest Muslim groups in Germany. The focus on these two groups, however, elides significant distinctions within the population of Muslim migrants in Germany. In this essay I focus on three less-discussed groups: Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani migrants. All three of these groups differ, above all, from Turkish migrants in Germany, because their departure from their home countries was occasioned, on the whole, more by political and religious and less by economic factors. Iranians and Afghans fled revolutions and wars in their countries, while the Pakistani community in Germany includes many Ahmadis, a heretical sect of Muslims according to the Pakistani constitution. Thus, the Pakistani-German community, in particular, presents a fascinating picture of a minority-within-aminority in Germany. This essay provides an overview of the history and current status of these three distinct groups of Muslim migrants in Germany. In addition, I discuss how popular perception of these communities often subsumes them into the larger Turkish-German community.

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Rebekka Habermas

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Around 1900 German orientalists, missionaries and representatives of colonial pressure groups started a debate about the so-called Moslem world. This debate created new spaces, connecting Africa, Europe and the Ottoman Empire: It equally shaped and was shaped by old and newly invented religious traditions and it made and was made by changing coalitions between political, academic and economic interests of transnational scientific associations, local African societies and by worldwide organized missionary groups. Above all this debate shows surprising connections to current discussions and thereby provides an insight into the ongoing German discussions about modern migration and the role of religion.

Migration and Religion

Christian Transatlantic Missions, Islamic Migration to Germany

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Edited by Barbara Becker-Cantarino

This volume looks at how religious identity and symbolic ethnicity influence migration. Religion – Christianity – was an important factor in European transatlantic migrations; religion – Islam – is a major issue in the immigration debate in “post-secular” Germany (and Europe) today. Essays focus on German missionaries and their efforts in the eighteenth century to establish new communal forms of living with Native Americans as religious encounters. In a comparative fashion, Islamic transnational migration into Germany in the twenty-first century is explored in a second group of essays that look at Muslim populations in Germany. They provide an insight into the ongoing discussions in Germany about modern migration and the role of religion. This volume is of interest to all who are engaged in issues of historical and contemporary migration, in Cultural and German Studies.

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Thomas Schmitt

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The debate about a new mosque in Manhattan to be located near Ground Zero echoed around the world in 2010. Since the end of the 1980s, plans for new mosques have been highly contested in the western world. The main aim here is a comparison of different mosque conflicts, with a focus on German examples. “No mosque in our town!” is, with its variants, a common slogan of local neighbors and citizen action groups in Germany when a new mosque is to be built. So it is only a minor exaggeration to state: “No new mosque in Germany without a local conflict.” Also, since the late 1980s, inconspicuous mosques in Germany have been increasingly replaced by buildings that combine traditional elements of Islamic architecture (minarets, domes) with modern western and postmodern forms. This analysis differentiates at least three aspects of these conflicts: (1) spatial aspects, e.g., questions of town planning, but also the relevance of the built environment for personal and collective identity, (2) interethnic and intercultural aspects, e.g., the relation between the establishment and outsiders, and (3) interreligious aspects, e.g., the mutual conceptualizations of Islam and Christianity or relations between Islamic organizations and a “secular” state. It also considers how these conflicts escalated through the interaction of both structural and accidental factors, in particular: anti-Islamic discourses, social polarizations, and an accumulated potential for interethnic conflict in residential areas with a high number of migrants.

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Karl Ivan Solibakke

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Thilo Sarrazin's bestselling diatribe against the Muslim population in Germany, Germany is Doing Away With Itself (2010), has generated opprobrium from the political elite and a mass following among the population at large. Basing his arguments on demographic trans-formations substantiating fears about a reduction of the indigenous population, Sarrazin decries the rising dominance of Muslim migrants in Germany, who purportedly reproduce at a much higher rate than the national average and prey on the country’s shrinking social benefits. At the same time, he limns Germany’s transformation from an industrial society to an information provider and services economy, presaging that this change poses educational, political, social and economic challenges as the native population ages and its industries struggle to surpass global competitors.

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Cornelia Niekus Moore

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In 1761, right before she died in childbirth, Charlotte Nebel, née Rambach, wife of a Lutheran pastor in Worms, Germany, completed a collection of meditations on the Passion of Christ. After her death, her husband, Henrich Nebel memorialized her by publishing her poetry, essays, and meditations. Her works show the influence of her famous father, Johann Jakob Rambach, a leading figure in Pietism and that of Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, and his emphasis on the Passion of Christ. Especially the meditations, entitled Der große Versöhnungstag (The Great Day of Atonement), had a wider appeal in Germany, in other places across the globe, in other languages, in other centuries. As will be shown, its long journey to other continents exemplified a combination of reader satisfaction, religious migration, and personal initiative. Every step in its long publication and republication process further exemplified the political and religious circumstances of the time. This article analyzes the trajectory across time and place and religious persuasions, until its most recent publication in 2009.

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David Gramling

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Despite the commonplace nature of such terms as “secular Judaism” and the near synonymous relationship between modern secularism and classical liberal Christianity, there exists little discourse about “secular Islam.” One speaks of the “dynamic tension between Islam and secularism” or of split identities and loyalties between the two poles, but almost never of the possibility of secularity and Islam existing together, unproblematically, within the same civic subjectivity. While critiquing the distinction between secularity and laicism in the Turkish context, the article pursues a provisional, phenomenological explication of this dilemma and suggests why a conceptualization of secular Islam is ultimately necessary for European and German discourses about religion and civic culture.