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The Transformation of Religious Interpretations of Sexuality and Gender between Individualization and Communitization

Panel Chair: Doris Decker | Monday, August 24, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

In this panel, questions about the current transformations of religious interpretations of sexuality and gender between individualization and communitization will be explored. Primarily, it will question how individualization processes can be acquired and how they are limited by inevitable collectivization, struggles for interpretational sovereignty as well as integration into social discourses. The theoretical reflection of the interweaving of individual and social issues will be based on data of various field researches on Christianity and Islam in Lebanon and Germany. The goal of the panel is, from a study of religions perspective, to take into consideration existing, partly contradictory sociological theories on religious transformations, such as individualization, secularization, and politicization, and to readjust them on the basis of empirical findings. The field of gender and sexuality offers an excellent window for discussions on such debates as it is often viewed as both a feature and barometer of social modernization processes.

Verena Maske

Concepts of Religion, Gender and Sexuality as Identity-politics in contemporary Islamic Youth Culture of Pop-Islam in Germany between Individualization and Communitization

This lecture outlines the current transformations of Religion, Gender and Sexuality in Pop-Islam. Especially young Muslim Women are agents in this Islamic Youth Culture, confronted with the Model of an ideal Islamic Woman: Sophisticated, successful, a modest wife and devoted mother, and an Activist for Islam. On the basis of a perennial fieldwork I will illustrate the concepts of Islam, Gender and Sexuality in the field of Pop-Islam, which are used as identity politics. Analyzing the Identity-Constructions of young Muslim Women will highlight that Individualization is inextricably linked with processes of Communitization, and due to this affiliated with questions of social positioning, interpretational sovereignty and power. By focusing on social constellations of religiosity and its integration in social discourses, the limits of individualization will be revealed and the interdependences of the individual and social scope are taken into account. Hereby the transformations of contemporary Islam will be worked out empirically and theoretically.

Doris Decker

“I Want Us to Fuck like Gods who have Finally Found Something to Believe In”: The Transformation of Religious Interpretations of Sexuality and Gender in Lebanon

The paper focuses on the phenomenon that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in Libanon increasingly dismiss traditional religious interpretations of sexuality and gender and create their own interpretations. Nevertheless, to desire somebody outside the prevalent heteronormative gender order which is dictated by religions is problematic. LGBTQ people report discrimination and repression. Can individual interpretations be created and used as options under such conditions? The thesis is that a transformation toward individual interpretations of concepts requires a new communitization as an alternative to breaking away from familial or institutional connections. This leads to questions about the degree to which interpretations can ever be ‘individual’. Accordingly, the paper seeks to present individual religious interpretations of sexuality and gender, and critically reflect on the concepts of individualization and communitization whilst taking into account their correlative relationship in the context of theories of religious transformations in modern time.

Maike Neufend

“I need to feel more...”: Emotional Communities Within Sufi Spiritualism

My project approaches the topic of spiritualism and social transformation with a focus on Sufism in contemporary Beirut, Lebanon. Data I collected as well as literature suggests that there’s a reinvention of Sufism in urban metropolitan areas. The assumption of this paper is that practitioners of popular urban Sufism produce social and cultural meaning via an aesthetic style of Sufism. Such style entails rules of emotion with an emphasis on modes of subjective experience. Due to the qualitative meaning of the nature of experience agents re-negotiate cultural values and norms influencing sexuality and gender identity. Drawing on empirical data I will provide meaningful insight into the processes of religious identity and gender identity constructions. I particularly wish to scrutinize questions of gender identity in relation to subjective experience and collectivism.

Mirko Roth

Factors of Change in Patterns of Religious Interpretation in Relation to the Findings of the Previous Lectures of this Panel. An Analytical Abstraction

This lecture seeks to show the interconnections between the previous lectures of this panel. Regarding the transformational processes of their research topics, this lecture will focus on the factors of change in patterns of religious interpretation. It asks: which of these factors are most significant and why? Are there similar or different factors at work and why? This analysis will be based on models and factors of religious change, which I developed in my doctoral thesis, employing theories of signs and communication.


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