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Comparing notes: An Anthropological Approach to Contemporary Islam

Inaugural Lecture Professor Marjo Buitelaar
09 January 2018
Professor Marjo Buitelaar

The growing Muslim presence in Europe has become the object of much public anxiety. In policy-making this is reflected in a strong focus on security issues and the  integration of Muslims. Not surprisingly, societal  demand for information about  Islam has increased tremendously. For scholars in Islam studies this raises the question how we can best cater for such demands.  What are the  most productive ways to contribute  to public debates about contemporary Islam? Also, how do public interests relate to academic interests? This is the central question in the inaugural lecture that Professor Marjo Buitelaar will deliver on January 16th 2018 to support her acceptance of her Professorship as a Full Professor in Contemporary Islam.

Chair Contemporary Islam

The new chair in Contemporary Islam has been established as a means of ensuring that teaching and research in the field of ‘Islam in everyday life’ receive the attention and facilities they warrant. Approaching the subject from various angles, research projects related to the chair will investigate how, in the current globalized world, various cultural contexts and balances of power are reflected in the religious views and practices of Muslims. The emphasis will be on ethnographic field work.

Marjo Buitelaar has been working as a Professor at the Faculty pf Theology and Religious Studies for the past few years and has been focusing on researching everyday Islam and the identity development of Muslims.

Building bridges

In her inaugural lecture she will argue that, in order to fully understand the rich and varied meaning of what people perceive to be religious in their own life, we also need to take into account the circumstances in which religion merely plays a role in the background. If we just focus on situations in which religions plays a prominent role, like in the political islam or in conflict situations, we may miss the point.

'If we start mapping the contextual presence of the Islam ethnographically in a daily life context, this does not only provide us with knowledge on the varied way in which Islamic writings are being practiced, which is interesting for researchers, but it also builds a bridge between the perceived gap or contradiction between Muslims and non-Muslims. This characterises the current societal fear with regards to Islam in Europe. This is why research like this is so valuable for our society', says Buitelaar.


The Inauguration will take place on January 16th 2018 at 16.15 in the Aula of the Academy Building. We welcome the presence of the press.

Last modified:12 June 2023 8.19 p.m.
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