EnGendering Europe’s Muslim Question seeks conceptualize, empirically ground, and consolidate a new way of thinking about Muslims and Islam in Western Europe.
Funder: NWO VICI
Period: 1-9-2018 t/m 31-8-2023
UvA researchers: Sarah Bracke (PI)
EnGendering Europe’s Muslim Question seeks conceptualize, empirically ground, and consolidate a new way of thinking about Muslims and Islam in Western Europe. It does so through two deliberate strategies: First, by shifting the analytical and methodological focus from ‘the other’ (Islam and Muslims) to the ‘European self’. The study proceeds by (1) analyzing the problematization (understood in a Foucaultian sense, as the study of how and why social problems emerge) of Islam and Muslims in Western Europe; (2) carefully mapping out the resonances and differences with Europe’s Jewish Question (as a paradigmatic instance of a racialized minority in Europe); and (3) further thinking and accounting for the racialization of religion in Europe.
Second, by centering the analysis in gender and sexuality, given the salience of questions of gender and sexuality in Europe’s Muslim Question (e.g. debates on women’s rights, homosexuality) as well as the potential of gender analyses to generate new knowledge. This approach allows me to (1) unpack how gender and sexuality function as privileged terrains upon which Europe’s Muslim Question emerges, (2) trace how the Muslim Question lays bare existing contradictions of gender and sexuality in Europe, and (3) consider the effects of the Muslim Question upon existing regimes of gender and sexuality.
The project consists of elaborate conceptual work was as well as an ‘ethnography of a problematization’ (adapting Bowen’s ‘anthropology of public reasoning’), which includes critical discourse analysis of key texts in the realms of policy-making and public debate, as well as interviews with figures from those realms. I focus on three topics: gender segregation, violence against women, and tolerance of homosexuality. While Western Europe provides the overarching horizon of the project, the empirical analysis is focused on the Netherlands, with contrasting case-studies from France, Belgium, and Germany (with a similar percentage of Muslims, between 5%-9%).