Workshop - Ethnographies of Islam - Describing Muslim Practices in Local Contexts

News 2009

​Workshop: Ethnographies of Islam: Describing Muslim Practices in Local Contexts

November 4, 2009

The importance of the ethnographic method increased in the last three decades as it spread beyond the boundaries of Anthropology into other social sciences, which gradually shifted their focus from the structural organization of social systems to the role of the people in producing and reproducing social processes through their everyday practices. However, despite the substantial ethnographic production that emerged since anthropologists in the 1980s highlighted the importance of local cultural contexts and power relations to the understanding of Islam, there is little methodological reflection comparing the impact of the ethnographic method on the representation of Islam in Anthropology and the other Social Sciences. Therefore, this volume aims to promote a comparative approach to the various uses of the ethnographic method in researches about Islam in Anthropology and the other Social Sciences.

The book aims to promote a debate between anthropoplogists and researchers from different academic disciplines on the epistemological consequences of the use of the ethnograhic method on their construction of academic discourses on a plurality of social phenomena connected to Islam. This project is particulary relevant in the current context in which political discourses and the mass media portrait Islam though the stereotyope of a monolithic civilization/religion that prevents the emergence of cultural pluralism and individual freedom. The idea is not just to counter these discourses by showing the diversity and plurality of the Muslim World, but also to promote a reflection on how the ethnographic method allows the description, representation and analysis of its social and cultural complexity in the discourse of Anthropology and the other Social Sciences.


Thomas Pierret (University of Louvain, Belgium/Sciences Po Paris, France)
Paulo Pinto (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Kathryn Spellman (Agha Khan University, UK)
Baudouin Dupret (CNRS, EHESS Cachan, France/University of Louvain, Belgium)
Sponsors: Wenner Gren Foundation & Aga Khan University

Razia Velji
Coordinator, Planning & Academic Development
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations