Grant for research on controversies on Jewish and Muslim religious practices

Prof. Dr. Thijl Sunier and Prof. Dr.Yolande Jansen (UvA) have been awarded a NWO grant for their research proposal ‘Critique of religion and the framing of Jews and Muslims in the Netherlands today’.

07/03/2013 | 9:15 AM

The research will address the recent controversies in the Netherlands and other European countries concerning Jewish and Muslim religious practices such as ritual slaughter and circumcision. These controversies are usually framedempty in terms of shifting relations between secular cultures and (orthodox) religion. Some criticise these practices in the name of secular and liberal values; others argue that secularist cultural hegemony exists in an uneasy relationship with religious freedom.

A question which has so far remained in the background, is how the framing of these controversies, in terms of the relationship between secular critique of religion and (orthodox) religion, is related to how Jews and Muslims have been historically, and still remain, the objects of cultural stereotyping, racialisation and discrimination. This is a crucial question at a time when anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are issues of concern in Europe. This project therefore analyses the dynamic between critique of religion and the framing of Jews and Muslims, while also aiming to contribute to public reflection on this dynamic.

One sub-project provides a conceptual-historical analysis of the dynamic between religious critique and the framing of Jews and Muslims in secular modern political theory. It subsequently examines the contributions of contemporary public intellectuals to the debate in light of that conceptual history. Another sub-project involves participants in controversies in the Netherlands concerning circumcision and ritual slaughter to evaluate the intercultural dimensions of specific forms of critique of religion.

The proposed research will be conducted at UvA Amsterdam and VU University Amsterdam. The research will be supported by the Socrates Foundation and it will take place in cooperation with several societal organisations, among them the Anne Frank Stichting, Stichting Forum, Eutopia, Humanistisch Verbond, Joods-Marokkaans netwerk.

The research project falls within the scope of the “Religie in de moderne samenleving” (Religion in Modern Society) programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

More information
Peronal web page Yolande Jansen (UvA Amsterdam, VU University of Amsterdam and Socrates Foundation)
Personal web page Thijl Sunier