Germany, Berlin

Islam and the West: The Pitfalls of Mapping the World

when 23 July 2016 - 20 August 2016
duration 4 weeks
credits 4 ECTS
fee EUR 900

Almost fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, the issue whether there is or in fact has ever been a “clash of civilisations” is still being highly debated among both scholars and politicians. In the meantime, a series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa – Green Revolution in Iran, “Arab Spring” in Arab countries, Gezi Protests in Turkey – have once more raised questions with regard to the viability of democracy in Muslim countries. Moreover, violent shootings that took place in Paris aiming at journalists and urban lifestyle, as in different parts of the world, on the one hand, and the increasing refugee flows from Muslim countries on the other, attributed the issue of Muslim presence in Europe utmost urgency and importance. While in Europe reports document a significant rise in Islamophobic and racist incidents over the last years, Muslims increasingly claim rights on the grounds that they are Europeans.

In light of the current conjecture, “the West” and “Islam” – two seemingly opposing notions – gained a crucial role in the debates that structure the public opinion and political atmosphere in Europe as well as in North America. What does it mean to be “Western”? What does “Islam” stand for? Are these concepts as mutually exclusive as it is commonly believed? How do Muslims perceive the West and vice versa? Why and how do ideas about oneself and the other change over time?

This course aims at empowering students to critically examine the dichotomies – such as “Islam” vs. “the West” – that are prevalent in their everyday lives, the public sphere, and above all within the context of global conflicts. Hence cross-cultural encounters and the emergence of new forms of identity as a result thereof will be of central interest. Excursions and meeting Muslims from Berlin will help us explore the diversity of Islam in the midst of a “Western” environment.

Course leader

Dr. Nur Yasemin Ural

Target group

open to everybody

Credits info

1. Attendance and participation: 20%
2. Presentation: 30%
3. Essay: 50%

Fee info

EUR 900: Tuition
EUR 250: Program fee