Arista Maria Cirtautas
Course content varies. Offered occasionally by visitors or resident faculty.
EUROPE’S MUSLIM POPULATIONS: The Challenges of Integration from East to West
This survey course will introduce the diversity and complexity of Europe’s Muslim populations from the long established communities in eastern Europe to the more recent immigrant communities in western Europe. Although these communities have been shaped by very different historical trajectories, which we will examine in the first part of the course, common themes do emerge, including the legacies of empire, the role of various transnational and supranational actors influencing identity construction at the local level and policy making at the national level, and the increasing pan-European nature of debates over the compatibility of Islamic symbols, practices and political-cultural agendas with what are commonly considered European traditions, landscapes and public spheres. In very significant ways, events and processes in one part of Europe increasingly inform outcomes in the other part of the continent as, for example, the considerable impact that the wars in Chechnya and Bosnia had on Muslim consciousness in western Europe. In turn, a more assertive Muslim identity in countries like Denmark has produced an anti-Islamic backlash, not only in western Europe, but also increasingly in east European countries, like Poland, that have long accommodated their Muslim minorities. With the end of the Cold War and the rise of global networks of communication, immigration and transnational Islamist activism, Europe’s Muslim populations, even in the context of distinct national and community settings, are now increasingly subject to similar dynamics of internal diversification (as Muslim communities are increasingly varied internally along religious, generational and ethnic fault lines) and external contestation (as these very heterogeneous communities increasingly seek cultural/religious recognition from, and political and socio-economic access to the states and societies they live in). The first part of the course will cover the geographical range and historical context of Europe’s Muslim populations with emphasis on how the legacies of empire (e.g., Russian, Ottoman, French and British) have produced different settlement outcomes and different patterns of accommodation, integration and resistance between Muslim and Christian populations that resonate to this day. In the second part, we will address the contemporary challenges and debates that increasingly revolve around the urgency of attaining a viable reconciliation between “Europe” and “Islam,” as the largely constructed and hotly debated conceptual markers for the perceived differences that need to be addressed and overcome. We will then see how these challenges and debates have played out in four country case studies: France, Germany, Russia and Turkey. In this context, Turkey is an especially important case study given the extent to which the “Europe-Islam” debate is carried out both in Europe and within Turkey itself, particularly with regard to the desirability and viability of European Union membership for this large, Muslim country. Whatever Europeans may feel at the national level about the challenges posed by the Muslim minorities in their midst, at the supranational level of the European Union, the challenge is one of integrating states with mainly Muslim populations (Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Turkey – all of which have either the promise of EU membership or, in Turkey’s case, actual candidacy status for EU membership) into the complex structures that comprise the single market and the other multiple arenas of coordination and consultation. Consequently, actors representing the European Union have an important and growing stake in fostering Muslim-Christian integration at both the inter-state and intra-society levels. The course will, therefore, conclude with a closer examination of the role of the European Union and other important non-state actors such as the Council of Europe and the Catholic Church in promoting or hindering the pursuit of viable forms of integration that majorities on all sides can support.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lecture and discussion
Class assignments and grading