Workshop „Governing “Islam” on a local level in Europe: challenges of the dialogue paradigm“ So., 16. & Mo 17.02.2020

Governing “Islam” on a local level in Europe: challenges of the dialogue paradigm

Institute of Geography – FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg/
Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS) – Osnabrück University

Coordinators: Jan Winkler & Georg Glasze (Erlangen); Andreas Pott & Laura Haddad (Osnabrück)


In Germany, as in many other European countries, the „Muslim“ population, „Muslim“ organisations and communities have been at the centre of interest within different policies of integration and social cohesion for some years now. At the same time, Muslim actors have often become active in new ways in different socio-political fields in European societies.

The workshop in Erlangen is integrated into, and to some extent endpoint, of a research project on “local configurations of ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ in Germany”, funded by the German research foundation (DFG) and is supported by the Central Institute for the Anthropology of Religions in Erlangen (ZAR). The project was based on the observation that the identities “Muslim” and “Islam” are increasingly negotiated and becoming significant categories at a local level, thus being governed – in a wide Foucauldian sense –, being specifically shaped and configurated on a local level and within different local contexts.

On the basis of two intensive ethnographic studies in Erlangen and Osnabrück as well as supplementary studies in numerous other large cities in Germany, our research project was able to show the importance of a  specific format through which the ways, „Islam“ and „Muslims“ are addressed, perceived, mobilized and configurated, are shaped: a „dialogue with Muslims”. Our project has shown that the “dialogue with Muslims” on a local level is often explicitly conceived as an interreligious relation and as such becomes an element of integration policy agendas. In its variations as a form of regulation and policy the dialogue programme focuses on questions of local coexistence and trust. In contrast to the media and political debates on the national level seen as „overheated“, it promises to achieve a pragmatic local integration of Muslims.

Local dialogue approaches translate into specific practices of local confidence building. They rely on the development of close relations between representatives of municipal politics and administration, local civil society, Christian organisations and the „Muslim“ population. However, dialogue is not only a set of local techniques, but, as a common motif, also points to a broader movement of acknowledgement, tolerance and involvement. Dialogue thus also stands for the more inclusively articulated and, in terms of cultural differences, more  “celebratory” strands of integration policy and debate.

The workshop will begin on Sunday evening, 16th of February, at 18.00 with a public lecture of Alexander-K. Nagel (Göttingen) on questions of „interreligious governance in the post-secular city“ in „Hörsaal C“ Kochstraße 4 in Erlangen.