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Accepted Paper:

Claiming the city. Muslim faith-based activism in post-Soviet Georgia  
Tsypylma Darieva (ZOiS, Centre for East European and international Studies, Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

There is a rise of civic religious activities in post-socialist Eastern Europe. This paper draws attention to the growing faith-based grass roots activism among Georgian Muslims in Batumi (Georgia) and discusses an emerging urban citizenship among marginalized religious minorities.

Paper long abstract:

There is a rise of civic religious activities in post-socialist Eastern Europe and those faith-based grass roots movements, engagement, public initiatives and urban interventions that lead to controversial debates on citizen’s belonging and solidarities. They may mobilize religious and non-religious individuals for a variety of claims, innovations and for a change of existing orders.

This paper draws attention to the growing faith-based activism among Georgian Muslims in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea shore. A controversial case of the construction of a mosque in the city marked by Europeanization processes is not an isolated episode confined to Batumi, but goes back to a much longer dispute over the Georgianness of Georgian Muslims and should be located in a wider, global perspective. An emerging regional metropolises in the South Caucasus offer fruitful arenas for the study of the dynamics of religious freedom in those domains where religion is seen as a new source of national heritage, and where legal frameworks (i.e. laws on religious freedom) for minorities and their participation are not yet elaborated, or are constantly being negotiated and contested.

Religious activism is a new dynamic field that may be understood in post-Soviet societies in different ways; both in opposition to what conventionally is called civic activism and as part of these movements. Based on ethnographic study of religious pluralization in post-Soviet Georgia and elsewhere in the post-socialist societies, the paper discusses affective strategies and an emerging urban citizenship among marginalized religious minorities.

Panel P137a
Religion, Political Participation, and Civic Engagement
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -