Everyday Life Practices of Muslims in Europe: Consumption and Aesthetics

Call for Paper

International Conference
Everyday Life Practices of Muslims in Europe:Consumption and Aesthetics

Where: KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Date: 28-29 November 2013
Organiser: KU Leuven Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies (GCIS)

Keynote Speakers:
Emma Tarlo, Goldsmith, University of London
Ali Mangera, MYAA Mangera Yvars Architects (to be confirmed)

Key words: Muslims in Europe, Consumption, Everyday life practices, leisure time, Aesthetics, Muslims Artists, Architecture, Muslim Self, Body, Memory

Muslims have a longer and deeper socio-economic and cultural experience in Europe and this presence requires a deeper understanding of the ways Muslims have become a part of Europe. In this vein, everyday practices (reading, talking, walking, dwelling, cooking, eating, clothing, consuming, shopping) are considered significant because they are not the “obscure background of social activity”, rather, they are the “investigation of ways in which users operate” (de Certeau). The socio-religious practices are obscure and not familiar with a non-Muslim, and the everyday practices are necessary to discover and penetrate this deeper experience of Muslims. The practices concern a mode of operation, a logic of doing, a way of being and a meaning. They do not link only to the question of personal choice and liberties. The content of the practice is to “make explicit the system of operational combination… to bring to light the models of action characteristic of users…” (de Certeau). The everyday practices create free areas through hobbies, games, art, clothes to the users in which one can see an essential formation of the self. We would need to discuss the increased sense that Muslims have of their distinctive-similar spatial locations that serve a free area or refuge to realize him or herself.

This workshop sets out to understand the everyday practices of Muslims living in Europe. The diverse and various (non)-religious daily life practices indicate the non-defined boundaries of Muslims whose practices can be a part of the stigmatised-open spaces in public discourses.
Examining the relationship between Islam and liberal democratic values, it is important to note what kind of practices and daily life experiences are exercised in private-public areas, which also determine the views and public perception of Muslims. The identification of Muslims with one or another practice is not a simply neutral matter; this entails also an attachment to liberal, communitarian and civil meanings. Regardless of the daily life activities, these perceptions of Muslims face the challenge that Muslims are not a fixed group, but they share the same practices that others have and do. Food and eating practices, consumer way of life, marriage, salutations; these banal practices of everyday life are central to discover the subjectivity of Muslims, or in other terms, a sense of the self, a way of embodiment.
These daily practices are inextricably linked to the problematic of subjectivity. The meaning, discourses, argumentations and reasoning behind the daily life practices are detailed experiences of the self.
This workshop seeks to explain the daily life choices and preferences in the context of subjectivity and self, looking at the questions concerning the religious-cultural-ethnic constructions of practices in which different perceptions are mediated on Muslims. The daily life practices and habits are not simply a matter of realising the self, taking enjoyment. They are in articulation with manifold cultural-religious-social meanings and discourses which serve to mark boundaries, to share some common values, to distinguish rituals, to strengthen social ties, and to symbolize a distinctive group awareness.
Each of these functions and constructions concretise a kind of belief in everyday life, support a choice, and contribute to the construction of a self. However, the daily life practices and rituals have received little serious scholarly attention because of their “normal” nature and their link with ordinary subjects rather than with polemical and controversial issues such as integration, citizenship, security and sharia. Devoting attention to daily life practices needs to disrupt and disturb these debates about Muslims in Europe.

A particular focus will be on the impact of daily life on two areas and aspects: consumption and artistic performances.

Muslim consumerism and leisure time

Many such debates dealt with the integration and the compatibility of Muslims with western values indicating how Muslims should be. At the level of consumerism, there is little attention through the lens of religious rituals and everyday practices in Europe. Muslims’ relation with eating, leisure times, clothing, fashion, shopping etc. are interesting topics to look closely the transformative processes in public and private life. At these micro levels of analyses, the consumption practices offer a valuable route to understand relations between memory, body, space, culture, ethnicity, and gender among Muslims living in Europe. The on-going processes of transnationalism put in forward these daily practices as means of change and assume the creation of new religious combinations, hyphenated performances as seen in Muslim fashion. The daily life practices reveal the conceptualization of individuality, modernity and indicate how these (in)differences are produced between Muslims and non-Muslims. The complex socio-economic, religious and cultural elements that are involved in the construction of Muslim self through consumerism surface the question of modesty, secularism, and bodily prescriptions, public-private borders. Do the daily consumerist practices unsettle some of the established normativity in social codes in Europe or continuity with the local-existing culture? Around this question, this part of conference will look at a possible way of convergences between Muslims and non-Muslims to point the social-cultural mobility.

Artistic performances

Arts and religion are nowadays in controversial turns. Often debates about how art approaches a religious matter illustrate some social phenomena and crises linked with sacred-profane relations. Controversies between religion and art become a sort of parameter to re-think what contemporary Muslims in Europe do, know and believe. Examining artistic performances of Islamic patterns and visual expression of faith provides new elements on how Muslim cultures are translated and concretized in European public life. Certain kind of artistic creativities, including popular culture, traditional art, painting, cinema, theatre, hip-hop, new sufi groups, architecture; this theme of the conference would like to align the circulation of daily life practices with the artistic expressions of Muslims in Europe according to the title of this conference. How can an artistic expression of Islam be analysed in terms of everyday practices? In which way artistic productions transcend the existing boundaries creating new forms of practices and introducing these new daily practices in public spaces? What are the new socio-cultural and political contexts of artistic practices? How these contexts influence on Muslim aesthetics? Is there a kind of Muslim aesthetics? This theme of conference will not be only an analysis of the production of ‘Islamic art’, including the architectural side. The aim is to cover the performative and architectural expressions of Islam, the emerging of new styles, and of compositions from Muslims in Europe. The circulation of these new styles, expressions between performers and the public encompass new theoretical debates on boundaries, space, and body, transculturality.

Authors are invited to send abstracts (maximum 500 words) of their papers on themes of their own choice, which include at least one of these two aspects that the conference wants to treat.

A detailed schedule will follow in due course.

Tuition Fees and Scholarships
There is no tuition fee for participants in the conference programme.
However, presenters and participants are expected to pay the costs of their travel and accommodation. The organizers have a reduced prize from ‘Irish College’ in Leuven. The GCIS covers the meals and transportation in Belgium during the conference.
Within six months of the event, a book will be produced and published by the GCIS with Leuven University Press, comprising some or all of the papers presented at the Workshop. The papers will be arranged and introduced, and to the extent appropriate, edited, by scholar(s) to be appointed by the Editorial Board. Copyright of the papers accepted to the Workshop will be vested in the GCIS, and printed in the conference proceedings book.

Selection Criteria
The workshop will accept up to 20 participants, each of whom must meet the following requirements:
– have a professional and/or research background in related topics of the conference;
– be able to attend the entire programme.

Since the Workshop expects to address a broad range of topics while the number of participants has to be limited, writers submitting abstracts are requested to bear in mind the need to ensure that their language is technical only where it is absolutely necessary and the language should be intelligible to non-specialists and specialists in disciplines other than their own; and present clear, coherent arguments in a rational way and in accordance with the usual standards and format for publishable work.


1. Abstracts (300–500 words maximum) and CVs (maximum 1 page) to be received by 1stJune 2013.
2. Abstracts to be short-listed by the Editorial Board and papers invited by 7th June 2013.
3. Papers (3,000 words minimum – 5,500 words maximum, excluding bibliography) to be received by 1st September 2013.
4. Papers reviewed by the Editorial Board and classed as: Accepted – No Recommendations; Accepted – See Recommendations; Conditional Acceptance – See Recommendations; Not Accepted, by 30th September 2013.
5. Final papers to be received by 1st November 2013.

Conference Editorial Board
Johan Leman, KU Leuven
Erkan Toguslu, KU Leuven
Saliha Özdemir, KU Leuven
Conference Co-ordinator ErkanToguslu

VenueKU Leuven University

The international workshop will be entirely conducted in English and will be hosted by KU Leuven.
Papers and abstract should be sent to SalihaÖzdemir saliha.ozdemir@soc.kuleuven.be
For more information plz contact:
Erkan Toguslu and Saliha Özdemir KU Leuven Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies