Abstract: At a time when many Europeans believe 'Islamic' and 'European' values are contradictory, an unprecedented number of Germans convert to Islam every year. In my research I follow the stories of different cohorts of Germans who converted to Islam over the last hundred years. It asks what kinds of Germans have encountered Islam in each epoch of German history and which interpretations of Islam they have embraced. It pays special attention to today's close to 100,000 converts who experience the challenge of choosing Islam in a climate of Islamophobia. How do converts come to terms with their admiration for Islam and the commonplace marginalization of Muslims? Do converts build what can be termed an 'ethnic German Islam' that is different from 'immigrant Islam'? And finally, how does the increasing number of ethnically German Muslims shape debates about the relationship between race, religion, and belonging in Germany?
Speaker Bio: Esra Özyürek, Associate Professor, received her degree from the University of Michigan in 2002. Her work focuses on how politics, religion, and social memory shape and transform each other in contemporary Turkey and Europe. She is primarily concerned with both religious and secular ideologies and practices, especially as they shape the definition of religious majorities and minorities. In her earlier work she focused on the transformation of state secularism in Turkey as the country moved from a state-led top-down modernization project in the 1930s to a market-based modernization project in the 1990s as the state elite negotiated being a member of the European Union. In her more recent work she focuses on how defining minority religions plays a central role in determining the boundaries of Turkish and European identities. She is currently undertaking a comparative project on converts to Islam in Germany and converts to Christianity in Turkey, for they challenge these boundaries.
This event is free and open to the public.