Progress: Ideas, Agents, Symbols

Do people in Muslim-majority societies conceive of progress in a specific way? How does religion influence ideas and concrete actions to alter or maintain a socioeconomic status quo? To answer these questions, the research area works with a broad definition of progress as the tension between the production and the destruction of possibilities for the future. It argues that if this future is a blank screen on which realisations of progress are projected, individuals and collectives must grapple with constantly changing horizons of expectations. Case studies of progress from Africa and Asia during the Cold War and contemporary times pay heed to ideological and social formations aspiring to be, or already considered, progressive. These formations are investigated with regard to emerging collective, institutional, and individual forms of agency, the ideas that underpin them, and their relationship to powerful symbolic representations in the urban fabric and the human body.