Event Details

In this talk, Professor Elisabeth Becker will draw from her book Mosques in the Metropolis: Incivility, Caste and Contention in Europe, based on 2.5 years of ethnographic research in European mosques, in order to grapple with the failures and possibilities for European pluralism. She will specifically turn away from the so-called “Muslim Question” (echoing of the “Jewish Question” prior) and towards the Question of Europe: questioning the resiliency of democracy in this post-colonial/post-imperial age.

By bringing the voices of Muslim Europeans to bear on contemporary debates regarding ethnic, racialized, and religious minorities and migrants in Europe, Professor Becker will shed light on how ideals of freedom, equality, and progress have failed many of Europe’s citizens. And yet she will also show how pluralizing the discourse on Europe’s present can and does contribute to democratic resilience in this uncertain age.


Tuesday, February 15, 12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.: “Impossible Pluralism? Religious Minorities, Migrants and Unsettled European Democracyâ€

Is pluralism possible in Europe? Are far-right parties like the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and the Front National (FN) fringe movements, or do they say something unsettling about the general state of democracy in Europe, today? The Post-World War II era in Europe was characterized by both devastation and hope for democracy, including a renewed political dedication to protecting plurality. Yet it was also characterized by the large-scale migration of guestworker and postcolonial migrants. Since these migrations, European nation-states and societies have grappled with the position of those who they first cast as foreigners, later as ethnic others, and today as Muslims in the European context. These boundaries between “us” and the other within came perhaps most pointedly into focus with the refugee crisis in 2015 that magnified long-standing conversations regarding who belongs to (and who is seen to threaten) the European imaginary, and the casting of both Muslims and refugees as uncivil in the political push for Brexit.

In this talk, Professor Elisabeth Becker will draw from her book Mosques in the Metropolis: Incivility, Caste and Contention in Europe, based on 2.5 years of ethnographic research in European mosques, in order to grapple with the failures and possibilities for European pluralism. She will specifically turn away from the so-called “Muslim Question” (echoing of the “Jewish Question” prior) and towards the Question of Europe: questioning the resiliency of democracy in this post-colonial/post-imperial age.

By bringing the voices of Muslim Europeans to bear on contemporary debates regarding ethnic, racialized, and religious minorities and migrants in Europe, Professor Becker will shed light on how ideals of freedom, equality, and progress have failed many of Europe’s citizens. And yet she will also show how pluralizing the discourse on Europe’s present can and does contribute to democratic resilience in this uncertain age.

Elisabeth Becker is an Assistant Professor/Freigeist Fellow at the Max-Weber-Institute-of-Sociology, Heidelberg University. Her Freigeist project “Invisible Architects: Jews, Muslims and the Making of Europe†reconceptualizes the formation of European societies by moving Jews and Muslims from the margins to the center of their stories. She is a cultural sociologist and public scholar focused on the experiences of ethnic, religious, and racial minorities and migrants in Europe. Elisabeth book, Mosques in the Metropolis: Incivility, Caste, and Contention, analyzes the enduring marginalization of Muslims in Europe through the ethnographic study of two of Europe’s largest urban mosque communities. Elisabeth also regularly writes for major publications like The Washington Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Tablet Magazine (she was a 2020 Tablet Magazine Journalism Fellow) and collaborates with non-profit organizations including The New America Foundation, The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and The Landecker Foundation, where she is a democracy fellow. She is currently writing a book on Jewish Berlin (Passages: The Moving Lives of Jewish Berliners).

Please click on the button at the top of this page to register for this event. After you register, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with a link to join the presentation on February 15.

This is the second in a series of three talks titled “Challenges to Democracy:  Authoritarianism and Extremism in Europe and Beyond,†presented by the Cornell University Institute for European Studies (IES).

By spring 1992, the Berlin Wall had fallen as had the old Soviet Union.  Optimism was in the European political air.  In that exuberant moment, Cornell faculty founded the Institute  for European studies to analyze what everyone imagined would be a united and democratic Europe.  

Today, it is difficult to remember that moment.  Populism is embedded in the European political landscape and analysts speak of fascism and authoritarianism with the same fluidity as they spoke of democracy in the past.   We begin our 30th Anniversary year with three lectures focused upon contemporary challenges to European democracy.

Our three speakers will speak on political extremism, fascism and populism, and religious conflict and incorporation.  Their talks address these challenges on multiple levels and provide hopeful solutions for the future.  All three of our speakers are prominent academics and public intellectuals.  In the spirit of our 30th anniversary, all of our initial speakers began their Europe journey here at IES and Cornell as undergraduates or graduate students.   

Challenges to Democracy:  Authoritarianism and Extremism in Europe and Beyond. (Lecture Series)
Future Events Dates/Times:

March 8th, 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
From Populism to Fascism
Speaker: Federico Finchelstein

Departments
Institute for European Studies (IES)
Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies
Department of Sociology
Jewish Studies Program
Comparative Muslim Society Program
Institute for Comparative Modernities

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