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Accepted Paper:

Who speaks for Islam? Academics as gatekeepers in the emergence of Muslim voices in Europe  
Pegah Zohouri Haghian (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the role of academics in the emergence of three Muslim thinkers as authoritative voices on Islam in Europe. It explores how scholars mobilised knowledge and resources in order to provide access for these thinkers to European institutions and publications.

Paper long abstract:

The raised attention towards Islam and Muslims in the last four

decades in Europe has sparked interest in authoritative Muslim voices.

This has been reflected also in the academia, with the emergence of a

broad literature on contemporary Muslim thinkers. In this context, the

selection of whose voice is discussed as authoritative is often

influenced by policies at national and international level, and

networks of scholars. The latter often act as gatekeepers by selecting

thinkers to translate and/or discuss in their publications but also in

mobilising and securing resources for these thinkers to enter European

institutions. This paper will discuss the role of academics in the

emergence of three Muslim thinkers in Europe: namely, Nasr Hamid Abu

Zayd (1943-2010), Mohammed Arkoun (1928-201) and Abdolkarim Soroush

(1945-). By elaborating Bourdieu's analysis of the role of gatekeepers

in the international circulation of ideas (Bourdieu, 2002), the paper

investigates the role of European scholars in the distribution of

knowledge, resources and ultimately status for these three thinkers.

The work will argue that the gatekeepers' selection was shaped by

pressures at the policy level (meant to promote 'liberal' and

'progressive' Muslim voices as reflected by Arkoun, Abu Zayd and

Soroush), their own personal agenda (interest and/or commitment to

these thinkers' cause) and their access to knowledge on the three

Muslim thinkers.

Panel P081
Mobilising policies: indolence, zealousness, discretionality and beyond [ANTHROMOB]
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -