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Religious minorities have always been at the centre of the German nation-state’s self-understanding, as it came to define itself vis a vis, and often against, them. Historically, this can be seen specifically in the Jewish experience, and today reverberates in the experience of Muslims grappling with a position of alterity in German society. We will move beyond the scholarship on these two religious minority groups to that of these two religious minority groups—that is the intellectual milieu of German Jews and German Muslims. Both have confronted the insider-outsider status of religious minorities in Germany, while themselves occupying—and thinking from—this position of alterity. As Jewish intellectuals a century prior, Muslim intellectuals are confronting the (im)possibility of fully belonging to the society at hand. In so doing, they are, at times inadvertently, coming into conversation with Jewish intellectuals past on ideas surrounding the practice of religion, pluralism, minority-state relations, and social ethics.

In: Jews and Muslims in Europe
Author: Ruth Sheldon


Drawing on ethnographic research with Haredi women in Stamford Hill to explore the limits of the secular vocabularies which dominate sociological diversity discourse, I ask why an assumed Jewish-Muslim enmity became its focus. First my response explores how a political theology of European Christendom, and a particular conjuncture of its race-religion constellation (Topolski 2018) finds expression in a secular concept of conviviality that regulates possibilities for intimacy in Hackney. I develop the claim that rationalist ideals of liberal sociality are in part mobilized to repress and contain violent histories of assimilation and exclusion in the borough. Second, I turn to Haredi women’s expression of an alternative Jewish-Muslim picture through intimacies that diverge from a convivial grammar. This leads me to tentatively explore how a vernacular Hasidic concept of chesed might hold together antinomies of care and violence, and offer alternatives for being-with, and mourning-with the neighbour in violent times.

In: Jews and Muslims in Europe