Workshop „Governing “Islam” on a local level in Europe: challenges of the dialogue paradigm“ 17.02.2020 – Call for papers

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

Call for paper

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)

Monday, 17th of February 2020 in Erlangen
Conference Room, Old University Library

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 in Erlangen aims at critically discussing, contextualizing and extending these findings. We are therefore happy to receive proposals for presentations and papers that contribute to one or more of the following aspects:

1) Governing Islam through dialogue on a local level (and beyond)

We would like to bring our case studies into exchange with research which either

  • analyses local configurations of “Islam” and “Muslims” in other local contexts and offers some reflections on the (ir-)relevance of the dialogue-paradigm within these contexts or
  • specifically focuses on the paradigm of dialogue with Muslims on different scales of social and political organisation.
2) Disruptions, challenges, and change within the dialogue paradigm

The reconstruction of the dialogue paradigm within our research project has also made visible challenges and fault lines of the paradigm. They fundamentally raise the question of its future and thus of new and alternative configurations of Islam at the local level in Germany (and beyond). We would like to discuss three areas of tension:

  • Tensions between interreligious (and partly intercultural) dialogues and the self-definitions of representatives of city administration or politics as secular or laicist (including a certain distancing from interreligious dialogue).
  • Processes of diversification and emancipation in the increasingly heterogeneous group of the „Muslim population“ which confronts the dialogue paradigm with increasing problems of representation. Such problems become visible, for example, in alternative practices of dialogue-oriented „Muslim“ engagements beyond the established dialogues.
  • Challenges of the dialogue paradigm against the background of a strengthening of Islam-critical or Islamophobic voices in local politics.


We invite proposals of 200 to 400 words. Deadline for abstracts is the 15th of November 2019. Please send your proposals to Jan Winkler (

The workshop will begin on Sunday evening, 16th of February, at 18.30 with an informal “get together” and will run on Monday, 17th of February, from 8.30 to 17.00. The meeting will serve to discuss further research initiatives in this field. As one of those, we plan to publish the workshop contributions in an anthology, issued by a renowned scientific publisher.