Events And Opportunities

Europe’s Own Islamic Architecture: Heritage, Contestation, and Necessity

In 2009, a majority of the Swiss electorate voted against the construction of minarets on Swiss mosques – implying an acceptance of new mosques and by extension, of Muslims; but denying the buildings (and by extension, their users) their most distinctive and most visible trait. Germany’s right-wing Alternative for Germany party, meanwhile, has made it an on-going agenda to halt any new mosque construction altogether. In parts of Spain and Catalonia, despite high proportions of Muslim migrants and generally peaceable Christian-Muslim relations, conflicts over proposed mosques have erupted as well. At the same time, Palermo’s Norman-Arab architecture is consistently preserved as a marker of Sicily’s Muslim past; Córdoba’s La Mezquita Mosque is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Historic Center site and as such, garners high numbers of appreciative visitors; and Islamic architecture throughout the Balkans, extensive and varied as it is, remains beloved and in some cases, recently restored. Are mosques (the quintessential and most necessary Islamic structures) signs of danger, of possible radicalization within otherwise placid and overwhelmingly Christian cityscapes? Are they indications of distant and long-ago settled conflicts, reassuringly resolved in the course of the Crusades, their architectural traces neutralized into heritage or converted into sites of other worship?

We will take as our premise that increasing numbers of mosques in Europe are inevitable, and that they present opportunities for meaningful design and simultaneous urban and social integration and differentiation. With that in mind, we invite papers addressing histories of European Islamic architecture, principally (although not exclusively) dating to the late 19th century and imperialism’s return of ‘the colonized’ to ‘the metropole’, as well as prospects for developing and future Islamic architecture in Europe. How will such projects be negotiated, locally and nationally? What architectural forms will they adopt: variations on historic Moorish, Arab, or Ottoman models? Or the currently more common Saudi model, often financed by a Gulf State? Will local syncretisms play a design role? How will funding and oversight shape individual projects? Our ultimate goal is to initiate an overdue, overarching discussion of the place of Islam in the built environment of Europe, today and in the future.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted by 30 September 2017, to Mia Fuller (miafuller@gmail.com or miafull@berkeley.edu). Please include your name, affiliation, title of paper, a C.V. of no more than five pages, home and work addresses, e-mail address, and telephone numbers. You will be notified of your proposal's acceptance or rejection no later than 31 October 2017.
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SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation for its operating support.
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