Call for Papers: Social Networking in Cyber Spaces: European Muslims’ Participation in (New) Media
29 May 2015
KU Leuven University, Belgium
*Vít Šisler – Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague, Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture, Managing Editor of CyberOrient, a peer reviewed journal of the virtual Middle East.
*Heidi Campbell – Associate Professor at the Department of Communication and an Affiliate Faculty in the Religious Studies Interdisciplinary Program at Texas A&M University. She studies religion and new media and the influence of digital and mobile technologies on religious communities. Her work has covered a range of topics from the rise of religious community online, religious blogging and religious mobile culture within Christianity, Judaism and Islam, to exploring technology practice and fandom as implicit religion and religious framings within in digital games.
Key words: Social Networks and Media, Social Movements, Networking, European Muslims, Transnationalism, Cyber Communities, iMuslims
The increasing growth of the Internet is reshaping Islamic communities worldwide. Non-conventional media and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming more popular among the Muslim youth as among all parts of the society. The new channels of information and news attract new Muslim publics in Europe. The profile of the people using these networks range from college students to Islamic intellectual authorities. Such an easy and speedy way of connecting to millions of people across the globe also attracts the attention of social movements, which utilize these networks to spread their message to a wider public. Many Muslim networks and social movements, political leaders, Islamic institutions and authorities use these new media spaces to address wider Muslim and also non-Muslim communities, it is not uncommon that they also address and reach certain so-called radical groups.
Much attention also has been given to the use of social media technologies and their ability to spark massive social change. Some commentators have remarked that these connection technologies, ranging from smartphones to Facebook, can cause revolutionary digital disruptions, while others have even gone so far as to suggest that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may have incited the Arab Spring. During the Arab Spring or Revolutions, the role of social media as an important and effective tool that had a political force to mobilize people, has been commonly acknowledged. Zeynep Tüfekçi of the University of North Carolina quotes that, “Social media in general, and Facebook in particular, provided new sources of information the regime could not easily control and were crucial in shaping how citizens made individual decisions about participating in protests, the logistics of protest, and the likelihood of success.” However, many scholars argue today that the reason of the revolutions were not social media, they also commonly agree that information dispersion, whether by text or image, was pre-dominantly managed through social media. Hence similar arguments were made in part of the Gezi Protests that took place in Turkey, in the late spring of 2013, where the protesters declared themselves journalists as they spread images and information through social media; such information they claim was censored by the mainstream media.
While many researches have focused primarily on the Internet that has played a role in Muslim radicalization, there is less emphasis on the Internet that is also being utilized to encourage Muslims to advocate for gender equality, citizenship and human rights within an Islamic framework, more generally. The social, political and cultural participation of Muslims via Internet open new discussions topics and research areas on Muslims living in Europe. Discussions groups, Facebook communities and all other cyber activism are interlinked with the debates on public sphere and citizenship. The never ending space of cyber activism transform the old debates on Islamic knowledge, authority, citizenship, Muslim communities and networks. The way that this transformation comes out is that young Muslims who are familiar with online platforms, use these spaces to enter debates and get a be-it informal space to present and represent their identities, ideologies, aspirations and even solutions. These platforms can offer the periphery voices to raise their experiences with stereotypes and marginalization. According to some scholars, bloggers and internet forums challenge the traditional media landscape by contributing to public constructions of Islam. The cyber space not only offers internet-natives platforms to argue about social problems but it also allows them to ask questions and find immediate and updated answers to problems concerning their own religious obligations and ethical concerns. Social media provides information accessible to Muslims all over the world, who can connect. It also provides them spaces to argue about belonging to a minority religion of a country they are a citizen of, and how to balance their cultural-religious sensibilities with their citizenship duties.
During this workshop we want to address the politics of identity construction and representations of Muslims in Europe through having a look at the updated mediascape based on but not limited by following headlines:
1. Muslim networks and movements in Western Europe : Formation of transnational communities
There are current debates about the links Muslims in Europe have with Muslims around the globe, and whether these links create a separate global Muslim identity in contrast to an integrated European identity. There is also the debate as to whether such links create a passage to radicalism. This section focuses on how Muslims in Europe “link” with other Muslims and Muslim groups across the globe. It looks into how Muslim networks across the globe influence Muslims in the West in terms of integration, social-political participation, education, etc. It also looks into how these groups influence each other, and how they reflect on issues concerning Muslim in Europe and across the globe.
On a second level it ask the following questions; how do communication technologies create a new transnational Muslim community? How are transnational Muslim communities regardless of ethnic differences created through the use of mass media and social media? How is Islamic discourse spread through mass media, how is an Islamic thought developed and dispersed through social (mass) media? How do virtual communities bring about social change? What are the dynamics between Muslim intellectuals, mass media, and knowledge dispersion? What are the relationships between diaspora’s and online networking?
2. Social networking and Muslims in the West
This section focuses on how Muslims connect online to learn more about their religion, for online dating/marriage, to share experiences of stereotyping/victimization/racism/islamophobia, to present/represent their ideology. It also looks into how through social media, Muslims create a space of debate, construct and share aspirations-imaginaries-products. How is consumerism among Muslims affected by shared images on these networks? How does the common sharing of certain video’s and texts, create a global common culture among Muslim youth?
3. (Social) Media and Participation: Muslims in Europe
This section focuses on how social media and the press influences political tendencies of Muslims in Europe. How do Muslims construct a sense of belonging and political responsibility in Western Europe, and does social media and the press have an effect on these phenomena? How does media create a common sense of awareness and how does this awareness in the global and local scene have an impact on their social participation? How do Muslim charity organizations function within the sphere of media and social media?
Presenters and participants are expected to pay the costs of their travel and accommodation. The organizers have a reduced prize from hotel ‘La Royale’ in Leuven.
The tuition fees to attend the workshop will be arranged as follows:
Speakers and delegates: 50€. The registration fee includes a conference dinner and refreshments.
*A proceedings book of the workshop with ISBN code will be printed and distributed in advance of the workshop itself.
*Within six months or a maximum 1 year of the event, an edited book will be produced and published by the GCIS with Leuven University Press, comprising some or all of the papers presented at the Workshop, at the condition that they pass a peer review organized by the publisher. The papers will be arranged and introduced, and to the extent appropriate, edited, by scholar(s) to be appointed by the Editorial Board. Copyright of the papers accepted to the Workshop will be vested in the GCIS.
The workshop will accept up to 20 participants, each of whom must meet the following requirements:
– have a professional and/or research background in related topics of the workshop
– be able to attend the entire programme
Since the Workshop expects to address a broad range of topics while the number of participants has to be limited, writers submitting abstracts are requested to bear in mind the need to ensure that their language is technical only where it is absolutely necessary and the language should be intelligible to non-specialists and specialists in disciplines other than their own; and present clear, coherent arguments in a rational way and in accordance with the usual standards and format for publishable work.
1. Abstracts (300–500 words maximum) and CVs (maximum 1 page) to be received by 10th January 2015.
2. Abstracts to be short-listed by the Editorial Board and papers invited by 20th January 2015.
3. Papers (3,000 words minimum – 5,500 words maximum, excluding bibliography) to be received by 10th March 2015.
4. Papers reviewed by the Editorial Board and classed as: Accepted – No Recommendations; Accepted – See Recommendations; Conditional Acceptance – See Recommendations; Not Accepted, by 20th March 2015.
5. Final papers to be received by 15th April 2015.
Workshop Editorial Board
Leen D’Haenens, KU Leuven
Johan Leman, KU Leuven
Merve Reyhan Kayikci, KU Leuven
Saliha Özdemir, KU Leuven
Merve Reyhan Kayikci, KU Leuven
Saliha Özdemir, KU Leuven
Mieke Groeninck, KU Leuven
KU Leuven University
The international workshop is organized by KU Leuven Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies. It will be entirely conducted in English and will be hosted by KU Leuven Gülen Chair in Leuven.
Papers and abstract should be sent to Merve Reyhan Kayikci.
For more information please contact:
Merve Reyhan Kayikci
KU Leuven Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies
Parkstraat 45 – box 3615