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Qualify Unification in Europe for Shifting Trust : A comparative research on Muslims responses to the politics of threat in France, Uk, Spain and Norway – QUEST

Qualify Unification in Europe for Shifting Trust (QUEST)

A comparative research on Muslims responses to the politics of threat in France, UK, Spain and Norway

The construction of islam as threat across Europe and its local manifestations. Muslim responses against a background of the politics of threat

This project addresses two main themes : the emerging politics of threat and shifting identities and representations, in relation to the presence of Muslims in European public spheres. Through two phases of research, followed by an action phase involving civil society and policy actors, the project aims to (a) consider common discourses of threat accompanying the growing presence of Muslims in four European societies with different traditions of minority inclusion; (b) to move beyond such ‘problem oriented’ approaches by examining the shifting identities and representations of Muslims as these are emerging in an era of ‘democratic deficit’. A key aim is to identify individual and collective discourses, practices and strategies in the re-elaboration process of what it means to ‘be Muslim’ in a polarized Europe, by focusing on responses to stigmatization and exclusion. A final action phase (c) will seek to transfer innovative practices of engagement and dialogue across the different European contexts. The project will make use of an ethnographic approach that involves mapping cultural production and activism through extended engagement with Muslims in urban settings, and with a special focus on youth and gender. While acknowledging the discourses of threat that pervade representations of Muslims in European public spheres, the project distinguishes itself from much of the research that represents Muslim agency in a stultifying manner. By focusing on new forms of engagement and dialogue in collaboration with civil society actors, the project seeks to promote more inclusive societies in a period of growing anxiety and mistrust.

After an initial desk-research phase to identify the way in which the links between Islam and the issue of threat have been forged over the last few decades, each team will conduct ethnographic research in one or two identified cities in each of the countries that form the case studies. A focus on the urban is an important feature of this proposal as the contemporary city is the site where multiple flows of people, media, goods and ideas both circulate and crystallise. It is particularly in urban space that the processes we aim to study are staged and can be observed. Urban space can be a source of inequality, discrimination, confinement or rupture as a space where processes of active participation are developed, where new identities and representations are produced, where marginalized or excluded individuals and groups can overcome marginality and thus participate in claiming a «right to the city« (Agier 2015; Oberti & Preteceille 2016). The urban is therefore the space where we wish to identify the modalities and logics of Muslim engagement and shifting identities in order to identify guidelines for the development of pathways to social inclusion and practices of citizenship.The city will, then, act as the site for research and also for hosting exchanges between actors in a final phase of the project concerned with transferring practices across contexts. The four countries gathered in this research have a distinct tradition of integrating Muslim citizens and, therefore, an experience of how to approach the public debate on Islam and Muslims, which offers the potential for a transnational dialogue dynamic from the local level.

This project addresses two themes of the call, the emerging politics of threat and shifting identities and representations, in relation to the presence of Muslims in European public spheres. Through two phases of research, followed by an action phase involving civil society and policy actors, the project aims to (a) consider common discourses of threat accompanying the growing presence of Muslims in four European societies with different traditions of minority inclusion; (b) to move beyond such ‘problem oriented’ approaches by examining the shifting identities and representations of Muslims as these are emerging in an era of ‘democratic deficit’. A key aim is to identify individual and collective discourses, practices and strategies in the re-elaboration process of what it means to ‘be Muslim’ in a polarized Europe, by focusing on responses to stigmatization and exclusion. A final action phase (c) will seek to transfer innovative practices of engagement and dialogue across the different European contexts. The project will make use of an ethnographic approach that involves mapping cultural production and activism through extended engagement with Muslims in urban settings, and with a special focus on youth and gender. While acknowledging the discourses of threat that pervade representations of Muslims in European public spheres, the project distinguishes itself from much of the research that represents Muslim agency in a stultifying manner. By focusing on new forms of engagement and dialogue in collaboration with civil society actors, the project seeks to promote more inclusive societies in a period of growing anxiety and mistrust.

Project coordinator

Madame Alexandra POLI (Centre d'étude des mouvements sociaux (FRE 2023))

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

NOVA Norwegian Social Research
SSS School of social sciences
CEMS-FRE2023 Centre d'étude des mouvements sociaux (FRE 2023)
SMT Sociology : Methodology and theory

Help of the ANR 350,289 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2020 - 36 Months

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