Muslims in Europe Beyond the Binaries: Incivility as Totalising Otherness

The Alfred Landecker Programme Seminars
Invited audience only
This event is free
November 2021

Please note: This seminar is held as a meeting via Zoom. For more information and to make a request to participate, please email 

The Alfred Landecker Programme's seminar series on religion, politics & belonging is pleased to welcome Dr Elisabeth Becker Topkara (Heidelberg) to present her new book Mosques in the Metropolis: Incivility, Caste, and Contention in Europe. Elisabeth is a Freigeist Fellow with the Max Weber Institute for Sociology at the University of Heidelberg. Elisabeth’s research centres on the cultural construction and contestation of borders and boundaries. Her research explores the experiences and place-making practices of religious, racial, and ethnic minorities— Muslims and Jews in particular—in both Europe and the United States.

Elisabeth will focus on what Anne Norton terms a "knot of difference," here including religion-race-ethnicity-culture, in the othering experienced by Muslims in Europe. Drawing on over two years of ethnographic research in two of Europe's largest mosques (the Sehitlik Mosque in Berlin and the East London Mosque), she explores how and why this "knot" cannot be pulled apart and what this means for our understanding of Muslim experiences in the post-colonial/post-imperial age. Through the illuminating narratives' of her interlocutors' lives in two of Europe's great metropoles, she uses the concept of incivility as the key feature of Muslim distinction, which at once essentialises and totalises complex, multiple identities, and projects the fragile, unsettled identities of European nation-states onto this "stranger within."