Call for Papers: EASR 2019 Open Panel: Approaching the study of Muslim debates

Call for papers at EASR (Tartu, 25-29 June 2019)

Open panel: Approaching the study of Muslim debates: Reasoning, relationality, and frameworks for disagreement

Chairs: Frank Peter (Hamad bin Khalifa University), Paula Schrode (University of Bayreuth), Ricarda Stegmann (University of Fribourg)

This double panel will examine how the analytical concept of Islam as discursive tradition has been used in research on debates inside Muslim communities. It seeks to inquire into and highlight the distinctive contribution, which studies drawing on this concept can make. The case studies to be presented ultimately serve to enhance our understanding of the conditions of Islamic discourse and the limits of what is sayable (Schrode 2016).

Anthropologist Talal Asad’s proposal to conceive of Islam as a discursive tradition (Asad 1986) has been considered a game-changing intervention in academic debates (Mahmood and Landry 2017). While Asad had introduced this concept in response to a relatively narrow debate between anthropologists, the questions raised by him continue to attract attention far beyond this field.

Generally speaking, tradition as an analytical category refers to a set of “conditions that produce meanings (compelling meanings or taken-for-granted ones)” (Asad 2006:289). These conditions can be clustered into three major interrelated problematics. First, the study of tradition implies a concern for the embodied subjectivity of believers and the traditions of cultivating “the body in its capacity to sense things, to be persuaded and convinced” (Asad 2006:287). Second, tradition raises questions about its specific temporality, i.e. how the evaluation of correct practice in a given context draws together past, present and future in distinct ways (Iqbal 2017), and under which conditions new beginnings become necessary and new stories of the past and future are generated (Asad 2006:290). Third, and most importantly for this panel, the category tradition involves the examination of modes of reasoning which enable both argument and disagreements as central features of the Islamic discursive tradition. This includes the analysis of mechanisms which regulate discourse without simply rendering the tradition uniform (Asad 1986; Iqbal 2017) It also implies the study of what makes disagreement possible, i.e. “some kind of shared framework (even when this isn’t entirely clear to those who disagree) that has temporal dimensions” (Iqbal 2017:198).

As demonstrated by Asad (1993) and others, this approach is eminently useful for the study of Muslim debates and more generally, of the fundamentally relational character of Muslim beliefs and practices. This panel will take cases from the rich history and present of Muslim debates to contribute to this study.

If you would like to contribute to this panel, please submit an abstract via the conference website by 15 December 2018:

We look forward to your proposals!

Contact Info

Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
c/o Karli Whitmore
125 rue Jean de la Londe, #301
Baie d'Urfe (Québec) H9X 3T8