Critique of Religion: framing Jews and Muslims in public debate and political theory

21June2017 24June2017


Workshop to be held jointly at the Vrije Universiteit and the University of Amsterdam on 21-24 of June 2017 (Wednesday evening – Saturday morning), organized by Anna Blijdenstein Matthea Westerduin,Thijl Sunier, and Yolande Jansen.

In 2014 we started the NWO funded research project with the same title on the controversies concerning Jewish and Muslim religious practices in Europe. Usually, these controversies are framed in terms of shifting relations between secular cultures and (orthodox) religion. The central research question of our project is how the framing of these controversies, in terms of the relationship between secular critique of religion and (orthodox) religion, is related to how Jews and Muslims have historically been, and still remain, the objects of cultural stereotyping, racialization and discrimination.

During the final workshop, we want to pick up on the central questions that have occupied us throughout the project, and that have also become more salient in the course of the last years, with the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, on Jews and Jewish locations, the killings on November 23 2015 in Paris, the reported increase of both anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism/Islamophobia, and the securitization of religion, Islam in particular.

Among the speakers are Paul Silverstein (anthropology), Ella Shohat (cultural/Middle Eastern studies), Ivan Kalmar (anthropology), Maleiha Malik (legal studies), Nasar Meer (sociology), Gil Hochberg (comparative literature), Yvonne Sherwood (biblical/religious studies), Robert Yelle (religious studies, history) and Maria Birnbaum (political theory). The speakers are working on the interrelated position of Muslims and Jews in Europe from various disciplines and perspectives.

On the evening of Wednesday 21st, there will be a public event in De Nieuwe Liefde with Gloria Wekker and Ella Shohat on white innocence and the racialization of Muslims, Jews and Blacks in European history (in collaboration with the Menasseh Ben Israel Instituut). On Thursday evening, there will be a public event in Spui 25 about the fine lines between critique of religion, blasphemy, hate speech and humor. The last session will take place on Saturday morning. Find below the preliminary program.

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