Tag Archives: Sociology of Religion

“Making European Muslims: Religious Socialization Among Young Muslims in Scandinavia and Western Europe” (Sedgwick, ed.)

Next month, Routledge Press will publish “Making European Muslims: Religious Socialization Among Young Muslims in Scandinavia and Western Europe” edited by Mark Sedgwick (Aarhus University, Denmark). The publisher’s description follows:

“Making European Muslims” provides an in-depth examination of what it means to be a young  Muslim in Europe today, where the assumptions, values and behavior of the family and those of the majority society do not always coincide. Focusing on the religious socialization of Muslim children at home, in semi-private Islamic spaces such as mosques and Quran schools, and in public schools, the original contributions to this volume focus largely on countries in northern Europe, with a special emphasis on the Nordic region, primarily Denmark. Case studies demonstrate the ways that family life, public education, and government policy intersect in the lives of young Muslims and inform their developing religious beliefs and practices. Mark Sedgwick’s introduction provides a framework for theorizing Muslimness in the European context, arguing that Muslim children must navigate different and sometimes contradictory expectations and demands on their way to negotiating a European Muslim identity.

Emon, “Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law”

In September, Oxford University Press will release Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law: Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law by Anver M. Emon (University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religious Pluralism and Islamic LawThe question of tolerance and Islam is not a new one. Polemicists are certain that Islam is not a tolerant religion. As evidence they point to the rules governing the treatment of non-Muslim permanent residents in Muslim lands, namely the dhimmi rules that are at the center of this study. These rules, when read in isolation, are certainly discriminatory in nature. They legitimate discriminatory treatment on grounds of what could be said to be religious faith and religious difference. The dhimmi rules are often invoked as proof-positive of the inherent intolerance of the Islamic faith (and thereby of any believing Muslim) toward the non-Muslim.

This book addresses the problem of the concept of ‘tolerance’ for understanding the significance of the dhimmi rules that governed and regulated non-Muslim permanent residents in Islamic lands. In doing so, it suggests that the Islamic legal treatment of non-Muslims is symptomatic of the more general challenge of governing a diverse polity. Far from being constitutive of an Islamic ethos, the dhimmi rules raise important thematic questions about Rule of Law, governance, and how the pursuit of pluralism through the institutions of law and governance is a messy business.

As argued throughout this book, an inescapable, and all-too-often painful, bottom line in the pursuit of pluralism is that it requires impositions and limitations on freedoms that are considered central and fundamental to an individual’s well-being, but which must be limited for some people in some circumstances for reasons extending well beyond the claims of a given individual. A comparison to recent cases from the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Court of Human Rights reveals that however different and distant premodern Islamic and modern democratic societies may be in terms of time, space, and values, legal systems face similar challenges when governing a populace in which minority and majority groups diverge on the meaning and implication of values deemed fundamental to a particular polity.

Kazemipur, “The Muslim Question in Canada”

This past May, University of British Columbia Press released The Muslim Question in Canada: A Story of Segmented Integration by Abdolmohammad Kazemipur (University of Lethbridge).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Muslim Question in CanadaTo those who study the integration of immigrants in Western countries, both Muslims and Canada are seen to be exceptions to the rule. Muslims are often perceived as unable or unwilling to integrate into liberal democracies, mostly due to their religious beliefs; Canada is portrayed as a model for successful. This book addresses the intersection of these two types of exceptionalism through an empirical study of the experiences of Muslims in Canada.

Drawing on data from large-scale surveys as well as face-to-face interviews, Kazemipur draws a detailed picture of four major domains of immigrant integration: institutional, media, economic, and social/communal. His findings indicate that, in contrast to the situation in Europe and the United States, the integration of Muslims in Canada is currently not problematic, particularly in the institutional and media domains. However, there are serious problems in the economic and social domains, which need to be addressed to avoid the European scenario in Canada.

A fresh account of the lives and experiences of Muslim immigrants in Canada, this book gets at the roots of the Muslim question in Canada. Replete with practical implications, the analysis shows that instead of fixating on religion, the focus should be on economic and social challenges faced by Muslims in Canada.

Kochen, “Organ Donation and the Divine Lien in Talmudic Law”

In September, Cambridge University Press will release Organ Donation and the Divine Lien in Talmudic Law by Madeline Kochen (University of Michigan Law School).  The publisher’s description follows:

Organ Donation and the Divine LienThis book offers a new theory of property and distributive justice derived from Talmudic law, illustrated by a case study involving the sale of organs for transplant. Although organ donation did not exist in late antiquity, this book posits a new way, drawn from the Talmud, to conceive of this modern means of giving to others. Our common understanding of organ transfers as either a gift or sale is trapped in a dichotomy that is conceptually and philosophically limiting. Drawing on Maussian gift theory, this book suggests a different legal and cultural meaning for this property transfer. It introduces the concept of the “divine lien,” an obligation to others in need built into the definition of all property ownership. Rather than a gift or sale, organ transfer is shown to exemplify an owner’s voluntary recognition and fulfillment of this latent property obligation.

“Modern Islamic Thinking and Activism” (Erkan Toguslu & Johan Leman, eds.)

This month, Leuven University Press released Modern Islamic Thinking and Activism: Dynamics in the West and in the Middle East, edited by Erkan Toguslu (KU Leuven University) and Johan Leman (Emeritus Professor at KU Leuven University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Modern Islamic Thinking and ActivismModern Islamic Thinking and Activism presents a series of scholarly papers in relation to Islamic thinking, activism, and politics in both the West and the Middle East. The reader will apprehend that Islam is not the monolithic religion so often depicted in the media or (earlier) in the academic world. The Islamic world is more than a uniform civilization with a set of petrified religious prescriptions and an outdated view on political and social organization. The contributions show the dynamics of ‘Islam at work’ in different geographical and social contexts. By treating the working of Islamic thinking and of Islamic activism on a practical level, Modern Islamic Thinking and Activism includes innovative research and fills a significant gap in existing work.

Kinnard, “Places in Motion”

Later this month, Oxford University Press is releasing Places in Motion: The Fluid Identities of Temples, Images, and Pilgrims by Jacob N. Kinnard (Iliff School of Theology ). The publisher’s description follows:

Jacob Kinnard offers an in-depth examination of the complex dynamics places in motionof religiously charged places. Focusing on several important shared and contested pilgrimage places-Ground Zero and Devils Tower in the United States, Ayodhya and Bodhgaya in India, Karbala in Iraq-he poses a number of crucial questions. What and who has made these sites important, and why? How are they shared, and how and why are they contested? What is at stake in their contestation? How are the particular identities of place and space established? How are individual and collective identity intertwined with space and place?

Challenging long-accepted, clean divisions of the religious world, Kinnard explores specific instances of the vibrant messiness of religious practice, the multivocality of religious objects, the fluid and hybrid dynamics of religious places, and the shifting and tangled identities of religious actors. He contends that sacred space is a constructed idea: places are not sacred in and of themselves, but are sacred because we make them sacred. As such, they are in perpetual motion, transforming themselves from moment to moment and generation to generation.

Places in Motion moves comfortably across and between a variety of historical and cultural settings as well as academic disciplines, providing a deft and sensitive approach to the topic of sacred places, with awareness of political, economic, and social realities as these exist in relation to questions of identity. It is a lively and much needed critical advance in analytical reflections on sacred space and pilgrimage.

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Joas, “Faith as an Option”

In August, Stanford University Press will release Faith as an Option by Hans Joas (Humboldt University, Berlin and University of Chicago).  The publisher’s description follows:

Faith as an OptionMany people these days regard religion as outdated and are unable to understand how believers can intellectually justify their faith. Nonbelievers have long assumed that progress in technology and the sciences renders religion irrelevant. Believers, in contrast, see religion as vital to society’s spiritual and moral well-being. But does modernization lead to secularization? Does secularization lead to moral decay? Sociologist Hans Joas argues that these two supposed certainties have kept scholars from serious contemporary debate and that people must put these old arguments aside in order for debate to move forward. The emergence of a “secular option” does not mean that religion must decline, but that even believers must now define their faith as one option among many.

In this book, Joas spells out some of the consequences of the abandonment of conventional assumptions for contemporary religion and develops an alternative to the cliché of an inevitable conflict between Christianity and modernity. Arguing that secularization comes in waves and stressing the increasing contingency of our worlds, he calls upon faith to articulate contemporary experiences. Churches and religious communities must take into account religious diversity, but the modern world is not a threat to Christianity or to faith in general. On the contrary, Joas says, modernity and faith can be mutually enriching.

“Religion and Inequality in America” (Keister & Sherkat eds.)

Next month, Cambridge University Press will release Religion and Inequality in America: Research and Theory on Religion’s Role in Stratification, edited by Lisa A. Keister (Duke University) and Darren E. Sherkat (Southern Illinois University). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion is one of the strongest and most persistent correlates of social and economic inequalities. Theoretical progress in the study of stratification and inequality has provided the foundation for asking relevant questions, and modern data and analytic methods enable researchers to test their ideas in ways that eluded their predecessors. A rapidly growing body of research provides strong evidence that religious affiliation and beliefs affect many components of well-being, such as education, income, and wealth. Despite the growing quantity and quality of research connecting religion to inequality, no single volume to date brings together key figures to discuss various components of this process. This volume aims to fill this gap with contributions from top scholars in the fields of religion and sociology. The essays in this volume provide important new details about how and why religion and inequality are related by focusing on new indicators of inequality and well-being, combining and studying mediating factors in new and informative ways, focusing on critical and often understudied groups, and exploring the changing relationship between religion and inequality over time.

Schull, “Prisons in the Late Ottoman Empire”

In May, Oxford University Press published a very interesting looking book at the Prisons in the Late Ottoman Empireintersection of religion and criminal law, Prisons in the Late Ottoman Empire: Microcosms of Modernity, by Kent F. Schull (Binghamton University). The publisher’s description follows.

Contrary to the stereotypical images of torture, narcotics and brutal sexual behaviour traditionally associated with Ottoman (or ‘Turkish’) prisons, Kent F. Schull argues that these places were sites of immense reform and contestation during the 19th century. He shows that they were key components for Ottoman nation-state construction and acted as ‘microcosms of modernity’ for broader imperial transformation. It was within the walls of these prisons that many of the pressing questions of Ottoman modernity were worked out, such as administrative centralisation, the rationalisation of Islamic criminal law and punishment, issues of gender and childhood, prisoner rehabilitation, bureaucratic professionalisation, identity and social engineering.

Juxtaposing state-mandated reform with the reality of prison life, the author investigates how these reforms affected the lives of local prison officials and inmates, and shows how these individuals actively conformed, contested and manipulated new penal policies and practices for their own benefit.

Sherkat, “Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans’ Shifting Religious Identities”

This August, NYU Press will publish Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans’ Shifting Religious Identities by Darren Sherkat (Southern Illinois University). The publisher’s description follows.

More than anywhere else in the Western world, religious attachments in America are quite flexible, with over 40 percent of U.S. citizens shifting their religious identification at least once in their lives. In Changing Faith, Darren E. Sherkat draws on empirical data from large-scale national studies to provide a comprehensive portrait of religious change and its consequences in the United States.
With analysis spanning across generations and ethnic groups, the volume traces the evolution of the experience of Protestantism and Catholicism in the United States, the dramatic growth of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, and the rise of non-identification, now the second most common religious affiliation in the country. Drawing on that wealth of data, it details the impact of religious commitments on broad arenas of American social life, including family and sexuality, economic well-being, political commitments, and social values.
Exploring religious change among those of European heritage as well as of Eastern and Western European immigrants, African Americans, Asians, Latin Americans, and Native Americans, Changing Faith not only provides a comprehensive and ethnically inclusive demographic overview of the juncture between religion and ethnicity within both the private and public sphere, but also brings empirical analysis back to the sociology of religion.