In October, the University of Chicago Press will release “Parables of Coercion: Conversion and Knowledge at the End of Islamic Spain,” by Seth Kimmel (Columbia University). The publisher’s description follows:
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, competing scholarly communities sought to define a Spain that was, at least officially, entirely Christian, even if many suspected that newer converts from Islam and Judaism were Christian in name only. Unlike previous books on conversion in early modern Spain, however, Parables of Coercion focuses not on the experience of the converts themselves, but rather on how questions surrounding conversion drove religious reform and scholarly innovation.
In its careful examination of how Spanish authors transformed the history of scholarship through debate about forced religious conversion, Parables of Coercion makes us rethink what we mean by tolerance and intolerance, and shows that debates about forced conversion and assimilation were also disputes over the methods and practices that demarcated one scholarly discipline from another.
In October, the Duke University Press releases “Islam and Secularity: The Future of Europe’s Public Sphere,” by Nilüfer Göle (entre d’Etudes Sociologiques et Politiques Raymond Aron, and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris)). The publisher’s description follows:
In Islam and Secularity Nilüfer Göle takes on two pressing issues: the transforming relationship between Islam and Western secular modernity and the impact of the Muslim presence in Europe. Göle shows how the visibility of Islamic practice in the European public sphere unsettles narratives of Western secularism. As mutually constitutive, Islam and secularism permeate each other, the effects of which play out in embodied and aesthetic practices and are accompanied by fear, anxiety, and violence. In this timely book, Göle illuminates the recent rethinking of secularism and religion, of modernity and resistance to it, of the public significance of sexuality, and of the shifting terrain of identity in contemporary Europe.
In September, the Harvard University Press will release “The British Empire and the Hajj,” by John Slight (St. John’s College, University of Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:
The British Empire at its height governed more than half the world’s Muslims. It was a political imperative for the Empire to present itself to Muslims as a friend and protector, to take seriously what one scholar called its role as “the greatest Mohamedan power in the world.” Few tasks were more important than engagement with the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Every year, tens of thousands of Muslims set out for Mecca from imperial territories throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, from the Atlantic Ocean to the South China Sea. Men and women representing all economic classes and scores of ethnic and linguistic groups made extraordinary journeys across waterways, deserts, and savannahs, creating huge challenges for officials charged with the administration of these pilgrims. They had to balance the religious obligation to travel against the desire to control the pilgrims’ movements, and they became responsible for the care of those who ran out of money. John Slight traces the Empire’s complex interactions with the Hajj from the 1860s, when an outbreak of cholera led Britain to engage reluctantly in medical regulation of pilgrims, to the Suez Crisis of 1956. The story draws on a varied cast of characters—Richard Burton, Thomas Cook, the Begums of Bhopal, Lawrence of Arabia, and frontline imperial officials, many of them Muslim—and gives voice throughout to the pilgrims themselves.
The British Empire and the Hajj is a crucial resource for understanding how this episode in imperial history was experienced by rulers and ruled alike.
In August, the Cambridge University Press releases “Religious Refugees in the Early Modern World: An Alternative History of the Reformation,” by Nicholas Terpstra (University of Toronto). The publisher’s description follows:
The religious refugee first emerged as a mass phenomenon in the late fifteenth century. Over the following two and a half centuries, millions of Jews, Muslims, and Christians were forced from their homes and into temporary or permanent exile. Their migrations across Europe and around the globe shaped the early modern world and profoundly affected literature, art, and culture. Economic and political factors drove many expulsions, but religion was the factor most commonly used to justify them. This was also the period of religious revival known as the Reformation. This book explores how reformers’ ambitions to purify individuals and society fueled movements to purge ideas, objects, and people considered religiously alien or spiritually contagious. * Aims to explain religious ideas and movements of the Reformation in non-technical and comparative language. * Moves Jews and Muslims to the centre of the traditional Reformation narrative, and considers how the exile experience shaped early modern culture, art, politics, and cities. * Traces the historical patterns that still account for the growing numbers of modern religious refugees.
In May, Columbia University Press released “Securitization of Islam: A Vicious Circle. Counter-Terrorism and Freedom of Religion in Central Asia” by Kathrin Lenz-Raymann (political consultant, Zurich, Switzerland). The publisher’s description follows:
Diverse Islamic groups have triggered a revival of Islam in Central Asia in the last decades. As a result, there has been a general securitization of Islam by the governments: not only do they combat the terrorist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan but also outlaw popular groups such as the Gülen movement. However, strong repression of religion might lead to radicalization. Kathrin Lenz-Raymann tests this hypothesis with an agent-based computer simulation and enriches her study with interviews with international experts, leaders of political Islam and representatives of folk Islam. She concludes that ensuring religious rights is essential for national security.
In September, Brill will release “Theory of Religious Cycles: Tradition, Modernity, and the Bahá’í Faith” by Mikhail Sergeev (The University of the Arts, Philadelphia). The publisher’s description follows:
In Theory of Religious Cycles: Tradition, Modernity and the Bahá’í Faith Mikhail Sergeev offers a new interpretation of the Soviet period of Russian history as a phase within the religious evolution of humankind by developing a theory of religious cycles, which he applies to modernity and to all the major world faiths of Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.
Sergeev argues that in the course of its evolution religion passes through six common phases—formative, orthodox, classical, reformist, critical, and post-critical. Modernity, which was started by the European Enlightenment, represents the critical phase of Christianity, a systemic crisis that could be overcome with the appearance of new religious movements such as the Bahá’í Faith, which offers a spiritual extension of the modern worldview.
This month, Routledge releases “Halal Matters: Islam, Politics and Markets in Global Perspective” edited by Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France), Johan Fischer (University of Huddersfield Business School), and John Lever (Roskilde University, Denmark). The publisher’s description follows:
In today’s globalized world, halal (meaning ‘permissible’ or ‘lawful’) is about more than food. Politics, power and ethics all play a role in the halal industry in setting new standards for production, trade, consumption and regulation. The question of how modern halal markets are constituted is increasingly important and complex. Written from a unique interdisciplinary global perspective, this book demonstrates that as the market for halal products and services is expanding and standardizing, it is also fraught with political, social and economic contestation and difference. The discussion is illustrated by rich ethnographic case studies from a range of contexts, and consideration is given to both Muslim majority and minority societies. Halal Matters will be of interest to students and scholars working across the humanities and social sciences, including anthropology, sociology and religious studies.
This month, Palgrave Macmillan releases “Sponsoring Sufism: How Governments Promote ‘Mystical Islam’ in their Domestic and Foreign Policies” by Fait Muedini (Butler University). The publisher’s description follows:
Sponsoring Sufism examines why various governments are looking to sponsor Sufi groups within their countries. While these government initiatives are premised on preventing the rise of violent extremism, this book suggests these governments are also advocating Sufism for other reasons. This includes the misconception that by sponsoring Sufism, the government leaders believe this will further help them stay in power, as Sufis are often perceived to be “apolitical,” and thus not a threat to the state. Some leaders, recognizing the level of influence that Sufi masters or sheikhs have in society, have looked to increase their ties with Sufi orders in order to further establish their own religious legitimacy. This is important in some cases, where the biggest political challengers to a number of these governments are non-violent Islamist groups, who use the message of Islam, coupled with extensive social programs, when running in elections.
In April, Ashgate released “Secularism and Identity: Non-Islamiosity in the Iranian Diaspora,” by Reza Gholami (Middlesex University). The publisher’s description follows:
Within western political, media and academic discourses, Muslimcommunities are predominantly seen through the prism of their
Islamic religiosities, yet there exist within diasporic communities unique and complex secularisms. Drawing on detailed interview and ethnographic material gathered in the UK, this book examines the ways in which a form of secularism – ‘non-Islamiosity’ – amongst members of the Iranian diaspora shapes ideas and practices of diasporic community and identity, as well as wider social relations.
In addition to developing a novel theoretical paradigm to make sense of the manner in which diasporic communities construct and live diasporic identity and consciousness in a way that marginalises, stigmatises or eradicates only ‘Islam’, Secularism and Identity shows how this approach is used to overcome religiously inculcated ideas and fashion a desirable self, thus creating a new space in which to live and thereby attaining ‘freedom.’
Calling into question notions of anti-Islamism and Islamophobia, whilst examining secularism as a means or mechanism rather than an end, this volume offers a new understanding of religion as a marker of migrant identity. As such it will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology and political science with interests in migration and ethnicity, diasporic communities, the sociology of religion and emerging forms of secularism.
In March, Ashgate released “Religion, Politics and Nation-Building in Post-Communist Countries,” edited by Greg Simons (Uppsala University) and David Westerlund (Södertörn University). The publisher’s description follows:
The increasing significance and visibility of relationships between religion and public arenas and institutions following the fall of communism in Europe provide the core focus of this fascinating book. Leading international scholars consider the religious and political role of Christian Orthodoxy in the Russian Federation, Romania, Georgia and Ukraine alongside the revival of old, indigenous religions, often referred to as ‘shamanistic’ and look at how, despite Islam’s long history and many adherents in the south, Islamophobic attitudes have increasingly been added to traditional anti-Semitic, anti-Western or anti-liberal elements of Russian nationalism. Contrasts between the church’s position in the post-communist nation building process of secular Estonia with its role in predominantly Catholic Poland are also explored.
Religion, Politics and Nation-Building in Post-Communist Countries gives a broad overview of the political importance of religion in the Post-Soviet space but its interest and relevance extends far beyond the geographical focus, providing examples of the challenges in the spheres of public, religious and social policy for all transitional countries.