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Lecture, Lecture series

An Impossible Promise? Sociology of Religion in Arab Countries

Lecture by Florian Zemmin (Freie Universität Berlin)

Many Arab sociologists have been criticising the rather weak establishment of sociology in their countries. This concerns structural issues, especially political constraints for research and the underfunding of universities, but also theoretical issues, not least the Eurocentric formation and workings of sociology. Both structural and theoretical issues are especially pronounced when it comes to sociology of religion: to position religion as an object of sociological study faces political constraints and societal scepticism, also due to its representing a secular, supposedly particularly European perspective on religion. That being said, sociological approaches to religion in Arabic do have a longer history and feature more widely than is often assumed. This talk will provide glimpses into the history and presence of these approaches and their characteristics, addressing both structural and theoretical questions. One larger set of current debates that this talk will speak to are attempts at “decolonizing sociology” or establishing a “post-colonial sociology”. Such attempts often remain on a theoretical level and, ironically, hardly consider research in languages other than English. In turn, this talk engages sociologies of religion in Arabic also in order to arrive at more nuanced answers to the question of which aspects of sociology are more widely shared and which are specific to certain societies and academic contexts.

Florian Zemmin is Professor for Islamic and Middle East Studies at the Institut für Islamwissenschaft, Freie Universität Berlin. Publications in relation to this talk include Modernity in Islamic Tradition. The Concept of ‘Society’ in the Journal al-Manar (2018); “Varieties of Secularity” in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East (2021); and, in German, “Soziale Reform unter (post-)kolonialen Vorzeichen: Soziologie in arabischen Gesellschaften” in VS Handbuch Theorien der Soziologie (forthcoming).

The event will be held via Zoom. Please register here: https://tinyurl.com/mr29m9mp

This event is part of the lecture series:
Summer Semester 2022