How do we have a conversation about Islam? A Symposium

The Symposium aims to engage members of the community, scholars, artists and community activists on the problems of defining Islam and the impacts of such definitions on the lives of contemporary Muslims in Australia today.

It is jointly organized by the Religion & Society Research Stream of Macquarie University, the Religion & Society Research Cluster of Western Sydney University, the Muslim Collective and Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association. The symposium is supported by Blacktown Arts.

The presentations will be critical, creative and compassionate interventions that include talks, readings, performances, screenings, followed by discussions.

The presenters all live and work in Australia and include: Kaveh Akbari Arya, Oishee Alam, Selda Dagistanli, Iqbal Barkat, Bianca Elmir, Siobhan Irving, Yassir Morsi, Joseph Pugliese, Khaled Sabsabi, and Reem Sweid.


Islam is the name that gives Muslims a name. For Muslims it is perhaps the most proper of names, a name that loses its singularity when transcribed outside Muslim contexts. After all, what is Islam in a world dominated by the Western enterprise but a scandal?  (Sayyid, 13, 2014)
The suggestion by a number of contemporary writers, including Salman Sayyid and Hamid Dabashi is that Islam is so different that we need new concepts and categories to engage with it. How can we understand their suggestion without resorting to simplistic binaries and ‘clash of civilisation’ rhetoric? How do we use our Western traditions to engage with Islam, without these traditions becoming the very drivers of oppression of Muslims living in the West? How do Muslims recover from generations of colonization and defeat to join forces with allies in the West looking for resources to engage with Islam and to combat imperialism and its legacies?  And how does Western scholarship understand its own failures in creating a just society by looking to Islam as a potential site for renewal?
Topics  will encompass (but not limited to) the following areas:

–       constitutive elements in conceptualizing Islam;

–       “the social reality of a plurality of norms (and proponents of those norms) over what it means to be Muslim —arguing over “what is Islam?” (Ahmed, 2016)

–       phenomenon such as Islamism or Islamic art;

–       challenging the constitution of Islam as other;

–       contesting and undermining legal (and statist) epistemology and discourse around Islam;

–       issues around the movement from ontological debates to practical ones – those that lead to social, political or artistic outcomes;

–       issues of systemic and structural discrimination;

–       the false dichotomy of anti-sexism and anti-racism when debating issues around Islam;

–       ways in which Muslims are perceived in racialised terms;

–       religion as a site of cultural politics;

–       the “Muslim problem”;

–       inherent tensions and contradictions of the secular state and republican/liberal values;

–       issues around theocratization or secularization

Event Details
  • Start Date
    September 15, 2018 10:00am
  • End Date
    September 15, 2018 4:00pm
  • Status
  • Category
  • Address
    The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre, 78 Flushcombe Road, Blacktown NSW 2148
  • Web Sites
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