Doctoral Research Position Examining Islam in the Canadian North - University of Southern Denmark

Could you please share this among your MA students?

Dietrich Jung and Martin Ledstrup (University of Southern Denmark) are looking for a PhD student to be part of a research grant for research that would begin in the fall of 2018. The student must relocate to Denmark for her/his PhD, but undertake research in Whitehorse and Yellowknife. Please see the attached for more info.

From Dietrich Jung: "this person should also be willing to write her PhD in Denmark as we will not be able to fund it in Canada. However, moving to Denmark will be well paid as we have the best paid PhD positions in the world.²

The “Arctic Muslim”. Constructing Modern Muslim Selfhoods in Peripheral Western Environments

(Dietrich Jung and Martin Ledstrup)

The life of Muslims in the “West” turned into an expanding research field of Islamic and religious studies. Increasingly, scholars study the religious practices of Muslim minorities in Australia, Europe and North America. But at the same time, these studies are generally constricted in their scope of analysis. Geographically, they tend to focus on urban dwellings in major cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Detroit, London, Paris, Sydney, or the greater Toronto area. When it comes to religion, they often deal with specifically pietistic Muslim groups, Islamist organizations or milieus in which Salafi preachers apparently contribute to the radicalization of Muslim youth. This project aims at a decisive shift in terms of geographical location and religious tendency in the study of Muslim life in the West. Instead of looking at the construction of contemporary pietistic and Salafi Muslim identities in Western urban settings, it wants to investigate the formation of ordinary modern Muslim selfhoods in geographically peripheral environments. We want to approach “lived Islam” in the socially and ecologically precarious environment of “arctic” towns in Norway and Canada, more specifically in Tromsø in Norway and Whitehorse and Yellowknife in Canada.

Methodologically, our project follows a recent shift in religious studies where religion is studied as an everyday practice. In the meanwhile, it is this study of “religion in everyday life” (Ammerman 2014) rather than the classical analysis of religions as belief systems, which also has made an inroad in the discipline of Islamic studies. In taking our methodological inspiration from this shift toward “lived Islam,” we claim that studying Muslim subjectivity formation in peripheral settings gives new insights into the construction of religious identities through everyday practices.

In approaching the construction of religious selves through social processes in peripheral settings, we deal with Islam as both an independent and a dependent variable. On the one hand, we consider religion as the departure point for the construction of a meaningful moral self in the everyday life of the believer. On the other hand, the individual and collective practices of Islamic traditions unfold within a frame of context-dependent structural opportunities and constraints. Consequently, the concrete interpretation of religious traditions and the conduct of religious practices are contingent to a multiplicity of non-religious social factors. Our key question is: how do Muslims negotiate their religious subject positions within these social and ecological constraints in the ordinary life of arctic areas? In this way, the project aims at contributing to both the study of contemporary Islam among Muslim minorities and to a theoretical discussion in the field of religious studies. Firstly, the project will fill a gap in Islamic studies in which Muslim life in peripheral settings, particularly in the artic region, has not yet been the subject of empirical investigation. Our study will therefore add an important pattern to the forms in which Muslims have interpreted Islamic traditions in modern times. Secondly, the project wants to contribute in theoretical terms to the ways in which religion, here Islamic religious traditions, is negotiated and implemented through the social practices of an everyday life in precarious circumstances. The project will be anchored in the Modern Muslim Subjectivities Project at the Centre for Contemporary Middle East Studies. Rooted in this research cluster it aims at enhancing its previous research in theoretical and empirical dimensions.

Dietrich Jung Professor, Department of History Head of the Centre for Contemporary Middle East Studies University of Southern Denmark Tel. +45 6550 4548 Email Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark