Fellow am Max-Weber-Institut für Soziologie, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
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In this presentation, Elisabeth Becker will draw from the narratives through which her book Mosques in the Metropolis: Incivility, Caste, and Contention in Europe (2021) took shape: bringing the ideas, hopes, and challenges faced by 20th century Jews in Europe into conversation with the ideas, hopes and challenges faced by Muslim populaces in Europe, today. Rooted in ethnographies of two mosques in Berlin and London, she will trace a discourse of incivility that casts Muslims, like Jews before them, as European insider-outsiders (in Georg Simmel’s terms, strangers) perceived, in their liminality, as threatening the social order. At the same time, the stories of her interlocutors (and also the echoing voices of 20th century Jewish thinkers like Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt) allow Becker to illuminate the agency of Muslim Europeans in shaping the social worlds around them, and contesting their associations with incivility. Unsettling the so-called “Muslim question” that dominates conversations about the (im)possibilities of Muslim (and Islam’s) belonging to Europe—echoing the so-called “Jewish question” of the 20th century—she will come to focus on the unsettled and unsettling question of Europe.
Elisabeth Becker is a Freigeist Fellow at the Max-Weber-Institute for Sociology, Heidelberg University. She is a cultural sociologist trained at Cornell University (BA in Sociology), Oxford University (MSc in Forced Migration and Refugee Studies), and Yale University (MPhil and PhD in Sociology). Elisabeth Becker previously held an Ad Astra/Assistant Professor position in Sociology at University College Dublin, and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship with the Religion & Its Publics project and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.