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Islam in Performance Panel

19 July 10

at the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies 19th-24th July 2010

Within the global academic framework, sensitive issues are raised in relation to the study of religion, particularly those associated with postcolonial perceptions of 'the Other', and the formulation of academic material in a rapidly shifting global context. The consideration of contemporary, innovative themes needs to be integrated into conventional methodology, although practitioners may question whether it is necessary to be academically ‘impartial’ to world events of the scale we know. Students and academics themselves present value judgements, in particular in relation to religion and its overrepresentation. Emotional shock may have caused some to suspend faculties of impartiality.

In many parts of the Muslim world as well as among Muslims in Europe and the West, new forms of pious arts have developed and are coming to prominence. In fact, art and religion are creatively merging and a variety of genres, ranging from the more traditional religious anasheed songs to Islamic hip hop, rap, soaps, stand up comedy and video clips, have become popular. While some artists excel in the mainstream, others work in religious niches. In both cases their artistic productions tend to question the categories of Art and Islam. While Art is made to embody ‘Islamic values’, ‘Islamic messages’ are being transformed in the process. These productions are contested within and outside religious circles, by several actors within the public and the state.

The growing influence of piety among a larger segment of the public in both the Middle East and Europe is contributing to the development of a ‘religious market’. Scholarly religious discourses have seen a movement towards ‘post-Islamist’ inclusive visions on art and entertainment. This panel will look at these developments and address the Islamic ethics and aesthetics of the subsequent productions and their various forms.

Chair: Dr Karin van Nieuwkerk, Department of Religious Studies, Radboud University, the Netherlands

Discussant: Dr Kamal Salhi, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Leeds, UK

Panel session I

Anne Rasmussen, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

Deborah Kapchan, New York University

Amel Boubekeur, Carnegie Middle East Centre

Nina ter Laan, Radboud University Nijmegen

Mona Khedr, Flinders University, Australia

Panel session II

Kirsten Scheid, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

Jessica Winegar, Northwestern University

Joseph Alagha, Radboud University Nijmegen

Karin van Nieuwkerk, Radboud University Nijmegen

Kamal Salhi, University of Leeds

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