EURISLAM: Finding a Place for Islam in Europe

A project funded by the European Commission Research DG, Seventh Framework Programme

Eurislam logoEURISLAM is an international comparative research project that analyses how the incorporation of Islam in European Member States is influenced by national traditions of identity, citizenship and church-state relations. EURISLAM will study how these traditions have affected interactions between Muslim immigrants and their off-spring and the receiving society. Fieldwork will be conducted in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.

Bristol team

The background

Funded by the European Union (FP7), the project will examine the consequences of existing approaches on the patterns of cultural distance and interaction that have evolved between Muslim migrants and the societies where they have settled. Entitled ‘Finding a Place for Islam in Europe: Cultural Interaction between Muslim Migrants and Receiving Societies’ (EURISLAM) and involving partners in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the project, which will run until 2012, will study migrant groups of Moroccans, Pakistanis, Turks and former Yugoslavs.

The project will examine how Muslims are portrayed in the mass media and relate this to migrant groups’ own perceptions, identities and cultural behavior that are gauged by opinion data. This approach will allow the research team to examine the extent to which mass-media representations of ‘culture clashes’ and Muslims’ cultural demands are similar to, or different from, the experiences of ordinary people. It will also show to what extent public discourses over the position of Islam – often repeated in academic and policy debates – are representative of the real demands and cultural issues that confront Muslims, and over which they have concerns and opinions.

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The research questions

  1. What are the differences between European immigration countries in how they deal with cultural and religious differences of immigrant groups in general, and of Muslims in particular?
  2. To what extent do we find differences across immigration countries in cultural distance and patterns of interaction between various Muslim immigrant groups and the receiving society population?
  3. To what extent can cross-national differences in cultural distance and patterns of interethnic and interreligious interaction be explained by the different approaches that immigration countries have followed towards the management of cultural difference in general and Islam in particular?

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The methods

On the one hand, we will focus here on attitudes, norms, and values, particularly those relating to democratic norms, gender relations and family values, ethnic, religious, and receiving society identification, and attitudes towards relations across ethnic and religious boundaries. On the other, we will look at cultural and religious resources and practices, such as language proficiency, adherence to various religious practices (e.g., attendance of religious services or wearing of a headscarf), interethnic and interreligious partnerships and marriages, the frequency and quality of interethnic and interreligious relationships with neighbours, friends, and colleagues, and memberships in social and political organisations of the own ethnic and religious group as well as of the receiving society.

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The Bristol research team

Professor Paul Statham is the Principal Investigator for the British Team. He is based at the Ethnicity and Citizenship Centre and is the Director of EurPolCom, the International Research Network on European Political Communications, hosted by the Department of Sociology at the University of Bristol. He was formerly a professor at the University of Leeds and a researcher at the Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung Berlin. His research focuses on European integration and the public sphere and on multiculturalism, Islam, and migrants’ political mobilization in Europe, within a cross-national comparative framework.

Dr Marta Bolognani is the Researcher. She completed her PhD from Leeds University and her thesis on British Pakistanis' criminological discourses was published as ‘Crime and Muslim Britain’ (I.B. Tauris, 2009). She has taught at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff (UWIC). She has published on topics related to Pakistani diaspora, Muslim popular culture, Pakistani social movements and urban studies in multicultural settings.

Institutional partners

Our international partners in the EurIslam collaboration are teams led by Professor Jean Tillie (coordinator, University of Amsterdam), Professor Ruud Koopmans (WZB Berlin), Dr Marco Giugni (University of Geneva), Professor Dirk Jacobs (Université Libre de Bruxelles), and Dr Manlio Cinalli (Fondation Nationale de Sciences Politiques).

European Commission Seventh Framework ProgrammeThe advisory board

Philip Lewis is Adviser on Christian-Muslim relations to the Bishop of Bradford, UK, and lectures in the Department of Peace Studies of the University of Bradford.

Sadek Hamid is responsible for the Foundation Degree in Muslim Youth Work at Chester University, which started in September 2007.

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