19 Oct 2007 - 20 Oct 2007 All day CRASSH


Convener:  Dr Humeira Iquitidar  

Muslim societies, in popular imagination at least, often seem to embody the opposite of the 'cosmopolitan'. Whereas the association with cosmopolitanism is often of fluidity, cultural interaction and change, Muslim societies are viewed as if characterized by rigidity, adherence to 'tradition' and resistance to change. A significant body of historical research points towards creative and active strains of cosmopolitan interaction in pre-modern, pre-colonial Muslim societies, as elsewhere. However, contemporary Muslim cosmopolitan interaction is seen most frequently as being mediated by the 'West', defined and shaped by the influence of Western cultural and economic forces. While that may be the case as a general trend, there is nevertheless a need to broaden our understanding to various other kinds of interactions that take place in and shape the Muslim world, in its various imaginatively and geographically configured permutations.


This conference would focus on the contemporary forms and vehicles of interactions with 'others' in Muslim societies. If cosmopolitanism is an engagement with an 'other', then proselytizing movements, trading networks, illegal and legal immigration, wars and imposed national boundaries all play an important role in bringing cosmopolitanism to Muslim societies. It is possible also to understand cosmopolitanism beyond 'internationalism', i.e. beyond the confines of a state. If it is broadly understood as interactions that lead to a rethinking of one's own way of life then it would be useful to understand the many ways Muslims societies and communities have engaged in this two-way cultural transmission in different contexts.


In conjunction with the above conference, there will also be a public lecture at 5.00pm at CRASSH on Thursday 18 October 2007 by Professor Bryan Turner. His lecture,Cosmopolitan Virtue: Religion and the Crisis of Liberalism, will be about the contemporary debate surrounding globalization, cosmopolis ethics and hospitality.

Conference Programme
Friday 19 October

12:30-1:00    Registration

1:00-1:30      Welcome

On the Subject of Muslim Cosmopolitanism
Martina Rieker, Shehr Network & American University in Cairo

1:30-3:30        Panel I: Conceptualising Cosmopolitanism

Bangladeshi Community in Tower Hamlets: Contemporary Muslim Cosmopolitans
John Eade

Cairo: Living Through Communal Divide, Almost
Asef Bayat, ISIM

Religious Cosmopolitanism: The Tablighi Jama’at in Urban Lahore
Humeira Iqtidar, Cambridge University

Discussant: Kamran Ali, Shehr Network & University of Texas at Austin

3:30-4:00        Tea Break

4:00-6.00         Panel II: Identity and Community
Looking for Dignity: Young Muslims between Western dystopias and Islamic Utopias
Gabriele Marranci
            Paper Title tbc
Annelise Moors

Cosmopolitanism in the 1950s: Changes in Urban Pakistan
Kamran Asdar Ali, Shehr Network Coordinator & University of Texas at Austin

Discussant: Asef Bayat (tbc)

Saturday 20 October

9:00-10:30         Panel III: Mobilities and Cosmopolitanism

Questioning Culinary Cosmopolitanism: Differences in Kerala-Gulf Connections
 Filippo Osella & Caroline Osella

Chitrali Muslims: Rural and Cosmopolitan?
Magnus Marsden

Discussant: Annelise Moors, ISIM

10:30-11:00        Coffee Break

11:00-1:00     Panel IV: A Critical Tension: Nation State and Cosmopolitanism

The Islamic Challenge to European Identity: A Misplaced Question?
             Sara Silvestri

Divine Cosmopolitanism: The Question of Islam
Bryan Turner, National University of Singapore

     The Show Boy, Hindus’ Imam, an Apostate,  or a Nationalist?
 A Preliminary Outline of Abul Kalam Azad’s Cosmopolitan   Theology
      Irfan Ahmed

Discussant: Humeira Iqtidar, Cambridge University

1:00-2:00         Lunch

2:00-3:30         Final Discussion  


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