Con­fer­ence: Ev­ery­day Life Prac­tices of Mus­lims in Europe: Con­sump­tion and Aes­thet­ics, Univer­sity of Leu­ven

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - MERVE REY­HAN KAYIKÇI KU Leu­ven

The KU Leu­ven Gülen Chair for In­ter­cul­tural Stud­ies (GCIS) or­ga­nized an in­ter­na­tional two-day work­shop, “Ev­ery­day Life Prac­tices of Mus­lims in Europe: Con­sump­tion and Aes­thet­ics” at the Univer­sity of Leu­ven, Nov. 28-29, 2013. The aim of the work­shop was to un­der­stand the daily prac­tices of Mus­lims in Europe, a phe­nom­e­non cur­rently un­der­stud­ied in academia. These prac­tices en­com­pass both re­li­gious and non-re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties, rang­ing from the most mun­dane daily ac­tions like cook­ing and clean­ing, to the most rit­u­al­is­tic prac­tices, such as prayer and fast­ing. The work­shop ac­knowl­edges that such prac­tices are not neu­tral, but are in fact cul­tur­ally and re­li­giously di­rected, and are also shaped ac­cord­ing to the civic val­ues of their so­cial con­text. Thus the work­shop fo­cused on two themes: “Mus­lim con­sumerism and leisure time” and “Artis­tic per­for­mances.”

The work­shop be­gan with a key­note speech from Dr. Emma Tarlo (Gold­smiths Univer­sity): “Is­lamic fash­ion, dress styles and ev­ery­day prac­tices among Mus­lims in Europe.” There­after, the first panel ad­dressed con­sump­tion and food prac­tices, and fea­tured pre­sen­ta­tions from three speak­ers. First came Elsa Mescoli (Univer­sity of Mi­lan-Bic­occa), who fo­cused on Is­lamic food prac­tices among Moroc­can women in Mi­lan. Her ethnog­ra­phy set out to un­der­stand how women shape their self and reaf­firm their re­li­gious be­long­ings in both the pri­vate and pub­lic spheres. Rachel Young (Wil­frid Lau­rier Univer­sity) gave the se­cond pre­sen­ta­tion; her field­work in Paris looked at how food can serve as a ne­go­ti­a­tion of iden­tity for North African Mus­lim im­mi­grants. Her re­search showed that among North African im­mi­grants a con­sump­tion pat­tern in­clud­ing two or more cul­tures is on the rise. Last was Valentina Fedele (Catholic Univer­sity of Lille), whose ethno­graphic stud­ies in France and Italy fo­cused on how eat­ing and drink­ing habits high­light par­tic­u­lar


mean­ings be­hind re­li­gious pre­scrip­tion, and how these lose their nor­ma­tiv­ity and be­come a Mus­lim ethic when they cross borders.

The se­cond panel ad­dressed specif­i­cally the use of me­dia in daily life. Lau­rens de Rooij (Univer­sity of Durham) fo­cused on how “me­dia con­sump­tion is linked to the con­struc­tion and ex­pres­sion of di­as­poric Is­lamic iden­ti­ties.” The third panel looked at ev­ery­day rit­ual prac­tices and iden­tity. The pre­sen­ta­tion from Leen Sterckx (Univer­sity of Am­s­ter­dam) ad­dressed how young Mus­lims de­velop new and mod­ern ways of courtship, whilst still keep­ing in touch with their fa­mil­ial and cul­tural val­ues.

The se­cond day of the work­shop started with the open­ing panel, “Mus­lim Spa­ces, Lim­its and Ev­ery­day Prac­tices.” First pre­sen­ter Ser­taç Sehlikoğlu (Cam­bridge Univer­sity) ex­plored women’s agency and pri­vacy within the con­text of women-only gyms in İs­tan­bul. Next up, Sümeyye Ulu Same­toğlu (École des Hautes Études en Sciences So­ciales) spoke about how Mus­lim women of Turk­ish back­ground in France and Ger­many spend their leisure time and prac­tice es­thet­ics. Her re­search showed that the Mus­lim youth in Europe de­velop par­al­lel al­ter­na­tives in these spheres to those of their non-Mus­lim peers. She coins these prac­tices, which are both mod­ern (in the sense that they re­sem­ble the prac­tices of the larger so­ci­ety) and also re­li­gious, as “halal cir­cles.” The third pre­sen­ter, Jas­mijn Rana (Free Univer­sity of Ber­lin), car­ried out ethno­graphic re­search at

kick­box­ing stu­dios in the Nether­lands. She looked at the mo­tives be­hind Mus­lim women par­tic­i­pat­ing in kick­box­ing and how they de­fine their po­si­tion within so­ci­ety ac­cord­ing to the sport. She ex­am­ined how kick­box­ing, Is­lam, gender and eth­nic­ity create ten­sions and rec­on­cil­i­a­tions, un­der­lin­ing that her aim was to bring the in­ner and so­ci­etal ten­sions of Mus­lim woman out from the con­text of the head­scarf de­bate.

The next panel con­cen­trated on the themes of ar­chi­tec­ture and ur­ban space. First pre­sen­ter Os­sama Hegazy (Bauhaus Univer­sity Weimar) spoke about mosques in Ger­many. By look­ing into the his­tory of the mean­ing of the mosque in Ger­many, Hegazy in­tro­duced a type of mosque that is ac­cept­able for the whole so­ci­ety, re­gard­less of its ap­pear­ance and the re­li­gious group it ad­dresses. Corinne Tor­rekens (Free Univer­sity Brussels) also spoke about the build­ing of mosques, in a pre­sen­ta­tion that aimed to shed light on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween mosques and lo­cal po­lit­i­cal au­thor­i­ties. She as­serted that the build­ing of a mosque in Brussels had much to do with trans­parency and equal­ity among re­li­gions.

The next panel was ti­tled “Artis­tic expressions-con­tro­ver­sies.” The first pan­elist, Thierry Lim­pens (Univer­sity of Gent), fo­cused on the artis­tic expressions of Mus­lims in­spired by the Is­lamic scholar Tariq Ra­madan. Ra­madan’s ideas re­volve around in­te­gra­tion to Europe as part of be­ing a Euro­pean Mus­lim. Lim­pens looked into how Mus­lim agency is a part of leisure time and con­sumerism pat­terns. The se­cond pre­sen­ter, Guidi Diletta (École des Hautes Études en Sciences So­ciales), ex­am­ined how art can be used as a form of ac­tivism. Her ex­am­ple of ac­tivist art was the “NiqaBitch” street per­for­mance, in which two women wear­ing both a full-face veil and shorts toured the streets of Paris.

The last panel, “Well Be­ing Prac­tices and Sub­jec­tiv­i­ties,” brought the work­shop to a close. Speaker Kirsten Wes­sel­hoeft (Har­vard Univer­sity) looked at well­ness ac­tiv­i­ties or­ga­nized for Mus­lim women and their chil­dren.

Dur­ing a pro­duc­tive two-day work­shop, the mun­dane ac­tiv­i­ties of Mus­lim men and women, who in most cases also have a mi­grant back­ground, were put in per­spec­tive, re­veal­ing how their self, their po­si­tion in and re­la­tion with so­ci­ety, and their habits are shaped by the many dif­fer­ent el­e­ments that com­pose their iden­tity.

WHAT: Ev­ery­day Life Prac­tices of Mus­lims in Europe: Con­sump­tion and Aes­thet­ics

WHO: The KU Leu­ven Gülen

Chair for In­ter­cul­tural Stud­ies (GCIS) WHERE: Univer­sity of Leu­ven

WHEN: Nov. 28-29, 2013


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