Conference: Religious Minorities' Self-Representations

Panel 4B

Love, Anxiety and Belonging in “Secular” Societies

Chair: Kor Grit (PhD Candidate, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University)
Room: Stijlkamer, Janskerkhof 13

 ‘Socio-Psychological Mechanisms of Nationhood: The Armenian Genocide as a Study Case’ – Sinem Adar (Postdoctoral Researcher, Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Göttingen)
This paper compares public contestations in Turkey over the Armenian genocide at two historical moments: its semicentennial anniversary in 1965, and the assassination of the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in 2007. These moments showcase: (i) moral classifications and affective judgments about “the Armenian” and “the Turk” as categories of difference, and (ii) how these classifications and judgments shape who can speak and what can be said. The contested memory of the genocide creates anxiety for Armenians due to their actual displacement within the nation. It is a source of anxiety for ethnic Turks stemming from the perceived threat of displacement within the nation. I argue that this relational character of anxiety contributes to the reproduction and/or contesting the dominant understandings of nationhood. Focusing our scholarly attention on this relational nature of anxiety, I suggest, shall provide important analytical insights to understand better the majority-minority relations within Western liberal democracies.

‘New Dutch-Islamicate Secularisms’ – Markha Valenta (Assistant Professor, Institute for Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen)
One of the most fascinating aspects of post-war western Europe is what we might call its “double-secularization.” Even as public religion has been privatized and reconfigured for an individualist, urban, cosmopolitan consumer society, states are increasingly inclined to legitimate their secular authority through the effective and performative incorporation of new and diversifying (migrant) religions. “Secularization,” in this sense, is the combined effect of the simultaneous, incremental “emptying” and “refilling” of the public domain with religion. The paradoxes and tensions this produces have meant that new Muslim actors in the public domain have had to negotiate contradictory imperatives. This paper will look at two such cases in the Netherlands, entailing two recently established political parties. One explicitly foregrounds and performs a pluralist, inclusive urban “Rotterdam identity” undergirded by Islamic religious inspiration; even as the other positions itself as a national (Dutch) immigrant party with strong ties to Turkish Islamist nationalists (AKP). In each case, the slipperiness, porosity, and instability of the dividing line between the religious and the secular is both the great challenge and the space of political possibility for these new (Dutch) Islamicate secularisms.

‘Transcendant Love?: Coptic Responses to Representations of Interfaith Romance on the Egyptian Screen (1952 – 2017)’ – Rahma Bavelaar (PhD Candidate, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam)
From the mid-20th century, Egyptian scriptwriters have occasionally used interfaith marriage as a dramatic trope to discuss the intersections of religion and nation, the meaning of postcolonial citizenship and the nature and limits of romantic love. These representations have been both co-created and profoundly contested by a range of actors, including state censors, Islamic scholars, Catholic cultural brokers and the Coptic Orthodox Church. This paper will examine debates around the film “Shaykh Hassan” (1952) and the drama series “Time of Roses” (2000) to explore what the contestations between producers and their audiences can reveal about how interfaith love has been variously constructed as a field of discourse in light of shifting historical circumstances.