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About us Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies Research Annual Conference of the Dutch Association for the Study of Religion

Keynote speakers

The opening keynote will be by Charles Hirschkind (University of California, Berkeley). The second keynote will be given by Heleen Murre-van der Berg.

Charles Hirschkind

“What a 12th Century Muslim says to a 21st Century Christian in Andalusia: Inheriting a Complex Religious Identity”

From the late 19th century to the present, many Spaniards—particularly those residing in the nation’s south—have come to feel that contemporary Andalusia is linked in vitally important ways with al-Andalus (medieval Islamic Iberia), and that the challenges faced by Spaniards today—and by Europeans more broadly—require a recognition of that historical identity and continuity. Discovering themselves to be inheritors of an historical identity deeply marked by the Islamic tradition (an identity insistently denied and erased within Spanish nationalist discourse), these men and women have found Islam to be integral to their lives in ways that upset their coordinates of identity, as Europeans, Spaniards, or Andalusians. In this talk, I want to think about historical memory as a medium of religious identity, or more precisely, of a religious interpellation addressed to a subject outside the bounds of that religion. While it is common to think about the legacies of al-Andalus as “cultural” rather than religious, neither of these modern terms, I argue, can do justice to the disruptive impact of the Iberian past on those who listen to its call. Drawing on the archive of Andalucismo, this talk asks: what does it mean for a modern European Christian to be the inheritor of a Muslim past?

Dr Charles Hirschkind
About the speaker

Charles Hirschkind is associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests concern religious practice, media technologies, and emergent forms of political community in the urban Middle East and Europe. He has published two books, The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics (Columbia 2006) and Powers of the Secular Modern: Talal Asad an his Interlocutors (co-edited with David Scott, Stanford 2005). His forthcoming book, titled A Feeling for History: Romanticism, Islam, and the Tradition of Andalusismo (Chicago) is based in southern Spain and explores some of the different ways in which Europe’s Islamic past inhabits its present, unsettling contemporary efforts to secure Europe’s Christian civilizational identity.

Heleen Murre-van der Berg

"Middle Eastern Christians on the Move: Permutations of (Religious) Difference"

In Europe and elsewhere, Middle Eastern Christians migrants are often perceived to have fled the pressures of religious difference, taking refuge in more congenial environments where religious difference is not supposed to lead to societal discrimination and exclusion. This contribution intends to investigate both ends of this movement, showing how religious difference in the Middle East often functions different from how outsiders tend to see it, and how religious difference in Europe has ramifications that are often overlooked, also and especially for newcomers. The varied and substantial literary production of these Middle Eastern Christians, a source that so far has been largely overlooked, constitutes a rich source for such an inquiry. Such an investigation should contribute to a better understanding of how religious difference is created, maintained and transformed, as an important aspect of communal identity formations which is simultaneously intertwined with adjacent and sometimes cross-cutting categories such as language, ethnicity, class and regional provenance.

Prof Heleen Murre-van der Berg
About the speaker

Heleen Murre-van den Berg (PhD Leiden 1995) is vice-dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, director of the Institute of Eastern Christian Studies and extraordinary professor of Eastern Christian Studies at Radboud University. Earlier, she held the chair of professor of World Christianity, especially in the Middle East, at Leiden University where she also served as vice-dean of the Faculty of Humanities. She published extensively on Christianity in the Middle East, especially on the Syriac/Assyrian traditions. Recent publications include (with S.R. Goldstein-Sabbah, eds), Modernity, Minority, and the Public Sphere: Jews and Christians in the Middle East (Brill, Leiden, 2016) and Scribes and Scriptures: The Church of the East in the Eastern Ottoman Provinces (1500-1850) (Louvain: Peeters, 2015). In 2017, she was elected a member of the KNAW (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen) and she received the Hans Sigrist Prize of the University of Bern. In March 2019, she won an ERC-Advanced Grant for the research proposal ‘Rewriting Global Orthodoxy: Oriental Christians in Europe (1970-2020),’ to be executed at Radboud University (Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies), from October 2019 onwards.

Laatst gewijzigd:09 december 2019 14:00