Relaxed religiousity: Secularism, ideals of civilised interaction and state governance
Laura Gilliam (Aarhus University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the imperative to perform 'relaxed religiousity' that Muslim migrants meet in Danish society. It argues that this not only reflects a tense relation to Islam, but a relation between secularism, ideas of civilised interaction and the welfare state's need for a space of governance.
Paper long abstract:
In the Danish welfare society, being an acceptable Muslim immigrant often implies being a 'relaxed Muslim' that performs a 'relaxed religiousity'. This comes to the fore in the political discourse and in the media at large, but also in everyday interactions in workplaces, welfare state agencies, civil society organisations and educational institutions. This paper explores the conditional inclusion that the ideal of the "relaxed religiousity" entails in a multi-ethnic school setting that prides itself of being inclusive and tolerant. Being a microcosm of society, one of the main agents of state inclusion and exclusion, and among the first arenas where young migrants and descendants meet societal norms and categories, the school institution provides us with a window to parameters of inclusion and how they shape identities and practices. In this specific setting, teachers' and Muslim pupils' perceptions and practices of acceptable Muslimness and religiousity, show how spaces of inclusion are defined and negotiated in the interface between state politics, institutional logics and social dynamics in everyday interactions. The paper argues, that the "goodness" of relaxed religiousity not only reflects a tense relation to Islam, but also an ambiguous relation to religion in general. It is suggested, that the imperative to compartmentalize religion stems from a complex relation between a moderate secular doctrine, an egalitarian ideal of civilised interaction and the Danish welfare state's demand for a space of governance and citizen formation.
From good immigrants to good citizens: mapping the space of conditional inclusion