Category Archives: Faith and secularism

Jewish and Muslim UK Immigration Experiences: Echoes of the Past, Influences on the Present

Next talk: 

“Jewish East London and the Myths of Integration” Jewish and Muslim UK Immigration Experiences: Echoes of the Past, Influences on the Present, Cambridge Muslim College/Woolf Institute Cambridge, December 2018.

From the Woolf Institute website:

The Woolf Institute and the Cambridge Muslim College are jointly organising a one-day conference on ‘Jewish and Muslim UK Immigration Experiences: Echoes of the Past, Influences on the Present’ on Thursday 6 December 2018.

This conference will be looking at the similarities in experiences in immigration between the British Jewish and Muslim communities. It has become clear to several researchers in the field that the experiences of British Muslims are in some ways similar to the experiences of British Jews from a century earlier. This conference will allow researchers who wish to explore such connections an opportunity to present their ideas and research. The number of attendees is limited to 40 as the aim is to encourage an atmosphere of discussion, engagement and exchange amongst participants.

The morning session and lunch will take place at the Cambridge Muslim College, 14 St Paul’s Road, Cambridge CB1 2EZ, between 9.15am – 1pm, The afternoon session will run between 2.30pm – 6pm at the Woolf Institute, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0UB, followed by a reception.

Speakers include:

Dr Ed Kessler MBE, Founder Director of Woolf Institute

Dr Ben Gidley, Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London

Prof Humayan Ansari OBE , Professor of History of Islam and Culture, Royal Holloway

Bryan Cheyette, Chair in Modern Literature and Culture, Series Editor of New Horizons in Contemporary Writing

Dr Mohammed Seddon, Research Associate, British Muslim Heritage Centre

Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Jewish Theology and Philosophy; Talmud

Alyaa Ebbiary, PhD Candidate & Nohoudh Scholar, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology, SOAS

Programme

9.15 Arrival at Cambridge Muslim College and introductions by Dr Ed Kessler MBE and CMC

9.30-11.00 – Panel 1

Prof Humayun Ansari, Professor of History of Islam and Culture, Royal Holloway and Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon

Coffee

11.30-1pm – Panel 2

Dr Ben Gidley, Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London and Dr Mohammed Seddon, Lecturer, University of Chester

Lunch (followed by walk/taxi/cycle to Woolf Institute)

2.30-4pm – Panel 3

Prof Bryan Cheyette, University of Reading and Alyaa Ebbiary, PhD Candidate & Nohoudh Scholar, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology, SOAS

Coffee

4.30-6pm – Panel Discussion and Conclusion

Dr Ed Kessler and Alyaa Ebbiary, PhD Candidate & Nohoudh Scholar, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology, SOAS

6pm – Reception at the Woolf Institute

Speaker Abstracts

Prof Humayun Ansari, Professor of History of Islam and Culture, Royal Holloway

A brief historical exploration of the similarities and differences between Jewish and Muslim religious claims, between their political engagement with wider society, and between antisemitism and Islamophobia in the context of and recent debates surrounding multiculturalism.

Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon

Experiences of immigrant Jewish families

Tracing the experience of three families of Jewish immigrants over three generations, one family each from Germany, Poland and Egypt. How were the original immigrants received in the UK, and how did they adapt to the new culture? In the second and third generations, how did individuals acculturate, and how and why did some break with the original culture while others sought ways to return to their ‘roots’?

Dr Ben Gidley, Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London

Jewish East London and the myths of integration

The East End of London is an iconic site of migrant arrival and integration, and its history and present are conventionally narrated through a story of ethnic succession as each “wave” of migrants arrive, settle, integrate, move up and move out to make way for the next “wave”. In this narrative, Jews are often framed as a “model minority”, against whom other minorities are judged (and usually found wanting). This paper, based primarily on archival research on early 20th century East London), explores some of the flaws in this narrative, by emphasising different responses to integration among the Jewish migrant population, forms of inter-ethnic contact (including Jewish-Muslim contact), and other Jewish trajectories which cut against the successionist narrative.

Dr Mohammed Seddon, Research Associate, British Muslim Heritage Centre

Jewish and Muslim Communities in Nineteenth Century Manchester

Contemporary relations between the Muslim and Jewish communities in Britain have been largely shaped and marred by international politics as a result of the creation of the state of Israel in the aftermath of the Second World War. However, historically the two distinct communities have enjoyed long periods of cultural proximity and cross-fertilisation, particularly in their migration and settlement experiences in Britain. From as early as the late-eighteenth century Maghribi and Levantine Muslim and Jewish traders migrated into the ‘Cottonopolis’ of industrial Manchester and their shared middle-eastern traditions and cultures ensured that both communities enjoyed a lengthy reciprocal relationship of inter-religious tolerance and collective community development. This paper explores some of the issues, experiences and historical details relating to Muslim and Jewish communities in 19th century Manchester.

Professor Bryan Cheyette

“Good/Bad Jews, Good/Bad Muslims: Some Theories and Contexts”

My talk will explore the ways in which Jews and Muslims have been racialized in relation to mainstream discourses within British culture. It will look at some theoretical work (especially around supersessionism) to show that both Jews and Muslims are bifurcated into “good” and “bad” versions which play off each other in the form of racialized tolerance. The talk aims to understand the mechanisms of this bifurcation and the ways in which such distinctions function culturally, socially and politically within the British nation-state and beyond. Such processes, in differing historical contexts, apply to both Jews and Muslims now and then.

How to book

Registration is free an includes lunch and evening reception.

Tickets must be booked in advance on Eventbrite here.

For further information, contact Claire Curran at cc640@cam.ac.uk.

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France and England on the verge of a nervous breakdown

From Kenan Malik’s Pandaemonium:

The French journalist Ilana Navaro has made a superb four-part radio documentary series for France Culture on social policies towards immigration and integration in France and Britain. Entitled La France et L’Angleterre au bord de la crise de nerfs (‘France and England on the edge of a nervous breakdown’), the documentary visits a ‘theological cafe’ in Paris and the Cambridge Muslim College, a sharia council in Birmingham, Goutte d’Or, an area in the 18th arrondissement in Paris with a large North African and sub-Saharan population, Brick Lane in East London, and Walsall, in the English Midlands. Among those interviewed are the anthropologist Sam Everett, the sociologists Ben Gidley, Amine El Yousfi and Benoit Coquard, the historian Nazneen Ahmed, Amra Bone of the Sharia Council of Birmingham, Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters, Shaista Gohir of the Muslim Women’s Network, the Parisian imam Mohamed Bajrafil, the religious historian and trainer, Samia Hathroubi, and myself. (My interviews are in episodes 3 & 4.)

Kenan posts the audio too, illustrated by some beautiful Arabic calligraphy.

Here’s episode 3:

https://www.franceculture.fr/player/export-reecouter?content=b93feec0-b60a-4b38-9070-8287ec083796


Sharia Councils: a user’s guide

From France Culture:
Réécouter La France et l’Angleterre au bord de la crise de nerfs (2/4):
Sharia Councils, mode d’emploi
55min | 17.01.2017

Exporter https://www.franceculture.fr/player/export-reecouter?content=eea81f3a-f459-47a8-8d47-5934677510da


LONDON/PARIS JEWS/MUSLIMS

From the Woolf Institute blog:

Woolf Institute research in Paris: “Religion, social action and urban policy: London and Paris face to face” by Junior Research Fellow Dr Sami Everett

Critical comparative perspectives are key to thinking afresh about an object of study. This is why I organised a unique event called “Religion, social action and urban policy: London and Paris face to face” that drew together academics from across disciplines and actors of civil society working on or through faith. Each panel was carefully selected to give expert reflection on the differences and similarities between France and the UK (Paris and London) in terms of managing urban ethnoreligious diversity. Given the heightened suspicion of faith in Europe today, and in particular Islam, the event focused on attitudinal change. It quickly became apparent that central to this discussion is the vexed question of French secularism (laïcité), a key aspect of assimilationist policy, and its relationship to contemporary interaction between faith communities and religious discrimination.

[READ THE REST]

Here’s me:

Capturing faith and ethnicity statistics is another fundamental difference between the UK and France. French Republican ideals of neutrality and equality do not allow for such granularity in census data. Omar Khan Runneymede Trust director (London) gave a statistical overview of racial and islamophobic discrimination in employment using UK census data as a way of appealing to policy makers. By contrast, and in spite of having no data, Estelle Barthelemy, founder of Mozaïk RH  (a recruitment agency of diversity in the Paris region) works with to try and increase the number of ethnically and economically disadvantaged young people in upper tier (graduate) employment. Discrimination though, is also discursive (it permeates peoples’ political speech)  and paradoxically while important work has been done to limit  Islamophobic and anti-Semitic (but not only) hate speech, barrister Arié Alimi  and ethnographer Ben Gidley alerted us to the fine line between what at times people say and their behaviour i.e. people can work together and enjoy each other’s company yet speak in a prejudicial manner about one another.

ben-hanane

Ben Gidley and Hanane Karimi

 

The event was funded by the PSL-University of Cambridge partnership that seeks to strengthen intellectual collaboration between the UK and France. The Woolf Institute and the Faculty of History of the University of Cambridge organised the event with the French National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) laboratory Groupe Religions, Sociétés, Laïcités (GRSL).

Read the GSRL blog post by Sami Everett and watch the conference videos here.

psl-conf


Religion, Social Action & Urban Policy: London Paris face to face

From the GSRL blog:

Religion, Social Action & Urban Policy: London Paris face to face / Religions, action sociale et politique urbaine: Paris et Londres en face à face

On 17 March 2016, a conference took place in Paris at the GSRL. It was organised within the exchanges between PSL Research University and the University of Cambridge by Samuel Everett (postdoctoral researcher at the GSRL/Woolf Institute). Read the conference program.
My bit:
Secularism Faith & Community

While in London civil society is often openly infused with religious values, social initiative in Paris and its periphery is structured by laïcité. This panel explores these conceptions of state secularism and questions the realities of these ‘models’ within local urban contexts as ideas of class, race and religious identity increasingly intersect.

Ben Gidely [sic!] discussed three historical-social science research projects on which he has worked focusing on his historical and ethnographic work in East and North East London.

He argued that national-level policy can mould how people live together and in the UK.

He discussed the theory attributed to this idea: “conservative pluralism” in which the Church of England maintained overall religious supremacy by mediating for minority faiths.

Space and place nevertheless impact on interreligious relations such as those on Brick lane which fosters neighbourhood narratives of cosmopolitanism.

Finally, somewhat paradoxically, his research has shown that how people interact with one another does not necessarily concur with how they talk about each other i.e. racist speak can belie good relations.

The post includes videos. Here’s mine:

 


Shifting markers of identity in East London’s diasporic religious spaces

A new article in The Impact of Diasporas: Markers of Identity, a special issue of Ethnic and Racil Studies produced by the Leverhulme diaspora programmes at Oxford and Leicester universities. The issue is edited by Joanna Storey and Iain Walker.

Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 39 , Iss. 2,2016

This article discusses the historical and geographical contexts of diasporic religious buildings in East London, revealing – contrary both to conventional narratives of immigrant integration, mobility, and succession and to identitarian understandings of belonging – that in such spaces and in the concrete devotional practices enacted in them, markers and boundaries of identity (ritual, spatial, and political) are contested, renegotiated, erased, and rewritten. It draws on a series of case-studies: Fieldgate Street Synagogue in its interrelationship with the East London Mosque; St Antony’s Catholic Church in Forest Gate where Hindus and Christians worship together; and the intertwined histories of Methodism and Anglicanism in Bow Road. Exploration of the intersections between ethnicity, religiosity, and class illuminates the ambiguity and instability of identity-formation and expression within East London’s diasporic faith spaces.


Historicising Diaspora Spaces

A new chapter

Image result for Religion in Diaspora Cultures of CitizenshipIn: Religion in Diaspora: Cultures of Citizenship, edited by Sondra Hausner and Jane Garnett

Part of the series Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship pp 55-79

Historicising Diaspora Spaces: Performing Faith, Race, and Place in London’s East End

Nazneen Ahmed with Jane Garnett, Ben Gidley, Alana Harris, Michael Keith

Abstract:

From the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, there has been a prevailing tendency to orientalise the East End of London. The idioms have changed, but underlying distortions of perspective have remained, from ‘darkest London’ through myths of the Blitz to ‘the new East End’ (Dench et al., 2006; Gidley, 2000; Walkowitz, 1992). This orientalised east London has been framed through (and served as an icon for) two conventional narrative tropes in the history and social science of migration in Britain, one temporal and one spatial. Both narratives are embedded in often-unspoken assumptions about the exercise and practice of citizenship. In particular, east London histories privilege the trajectories of migrant minorities that arrive in London’s lower echelons and are rescued from the abyss through self-improvement and civic engagement. The stories of Huguenot refugees, the Jews of the East End, the Maltese, the Indians, and the Irish are all in some ways redemptively showcased as plot lines of model minority integration. This familiar chronological script is mapped onto an equally familiar cartography as migrants move up, move out of the ghetto and into the suburbs, and leave space for the next wave of settlement. In spatialised Chicago School geography, stories of invasion, succession, and neighbourhood change, as, in chronologies of ladder-climbing minorities, we tend to find cast lists that are relatively unblemished by the presence of traces of difference. The ethnic mosaic is the key metaphor here: it implies social worlds that pass each other by relatively untouched.


Multiculturalismo: pros y contras del sistema británico de integración no regulada

LV_20150313_LV_FOTOS_D_54428960971-992x558@LaVanguardia-Web

Vanguardia

I’m published here, in Spanish, along with a few of my colleagues including Carlos Vargas Silva and Matthew Goodwin. Scroll down for the table of contents, and right down for how to buy. In due course, I’ll publish the English version.

VANGUARDIA DOSSIER Nº 55 | ABRIL / JUNIO 2015

El futuro del Reino Unido

Esta monografía de VANGUARDIA DOSSIER analiza el futuro del Reino Unido y sus cuatro naciones: Inglaterra, Escocia, Gales e Irlanda del Norte

IR A LA TIENDA Continue reading


Secularism, Racism and the Politics of Belonging

My paper “Faith Communities and Racism: Some Reflections from the Anglo-Jewish Experience” has been included in the newly publication by the Runnymede Trust“Runnymede Perspectives: Secularism, Racism and the Politics of Belonging”.

This publication is a collection of papers that were presented at conferences in 2010 and 2011 co-organized by the Runnymede Trust and CMRB – the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London. The contributors address issues of migration, racism and religion. The publication is edited by Professor Nira Yuval-Davis and Professor Philip Marfleet, University of East London.

Read the Conference Report by Mary Sutton. Listen to an embarrassing mp3 of my oral presentation. And even more embarrassing  youtube of my paper, part 1 and 2.