Closing the years 2009-2010

Because I don’t exactly know anymore when I started my own website, both the years 2009 and 2010 have been labelled as celebrating 10 years of blogging. In the last two years I tried to re-direct this site into more like a public anthropology website. A process that started in 2009 with the post Public Anthropology – 10 years from Researchpages to Closer (1999/2000-2009/2010). Based upon a text of Craig Calhoun I stated:
C L O S E R » Blog Archive » Public Anthropology – 10 Years from Researchpages to Closer (1999/2000 – 2009/2010)

Calhoun continues by stating that public science and addressing public issues is not just giving answers to questions the public has. It is as much, or even more, about questioning why particular issues are addressed in the way they are addressed by particular people and what the consequences of that are. How are particular issues and the way they are debated related to (changing) historical and cultural contexts, what is taken-for-granted and what does it mean? In my opinion this is (or at least should) should be the focus of this blog and has informed the change from my website Researchpages to Closer.

Maybe the most important contribution to this is a post on Islamizing Europe in which I try to deconstruct the argument of a demographic takeover of Europe by Muslims but also trying to understand how the whole argument works. It is a post from May 2009, and was last year and this year the most popular post of my blog. A second post involves the digital re-publication of all of the issues of the ISIM Review; the magazine of the former Institute for the Study of Islam in the World (ISIM) where I worked until it was closed in 2009. The most popular issue was Newsletter 7 on confronting modernity and my own article on Moroccan-Dutch youth and Islam, based upon my PhD research. Also Welmoet Boender’s article on Imams in the Netherlands, based upon her PhD research was very popular.

When I started my current research – Understanding Islam – Salafism as a Utopian Movement – I still worked at ISIM but after it closed the whole project moved over to Radboud University Nijmegen that was already a partner in the project. The Radicalization Series on my blog is a part of this project and a preparation for articles and chapter to write. Salafism as Utopian Movement post is an attempt to bring anthropology into the social movement approach that is now sort of leading in the research on Islamic activism. Besides this Salafism research, or better more and more as a part of that project, I try to follow the current debates on Islam in Europe but sometimes also in the US given the transnational connections of both Islam and the debate about Islam. The post on the Dutch Ground Zero Mosque is the most important example of such transnational connections. An ongoing task in this is of course monitoring the debate about and with Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders for which my post on his movie Fitna is still leading. But other topics covered here have found some public as well. The post on Rebelle – Art, Feminism and Muslim Women is still very popular as well as the Orange Fever post on the Worldcup football and nationalism in the Netherlands. The post was covered in the anthropology carnival of Four Stone Hearth #97 while asking the question: Does orange truly transcend ethnic minority identities? I think it does, for a while, in a superficial but nevertheless important way. I think.

Another issue that has been covered somewhat in Dutch debate is the question whether or not society is suffering from pornofication and sexualization by commerce. When a Muslim man wanted to scratch out posters that were sexist in his view, the debate suddenly changed. Interesting enough to cover it on my blog with some …uhm… fascinating comments as well. When trying to build up some sort of public anthropology one risks to become part of the public debate on the topic one wants to study. This happened to me as well albeit that I have to admit that I did not always acted very smart. One thing I did, and I still stand by it, was to comment upon a debate about a Dutch newspaper that re-published one of the Muhammad Cartoons. One of the Salafi organizations of course was against it and protested it which led to the removal of the cartoon. This was followed by other newspapers and sites that as a protest against the removal in turn re-published that particular cartoon under the label of defending free speech. In my comment for the tv channel of the Salafi group I commented on the political use of this free speech argument. I wrote about this in the posts Cartoonesque 15 and Cartoonesque 16. When one becomes part of the public debates, the whole public anthropology idea gets a different turn of course. Together with my colleague Henk Driessen of Radboud University I organized the workshop Anthropology and/in Publicity in order to explore the idea of public anthropology further with lectures by Ulf Hannerz, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Annelies Moors and Mathijs Pelkmans. Part of this workshop was a weblog to which several people contributed. One of the contributors, Daniel Lende, has written an excellent summary of the blogposts in Anthropology and Publicity(Thanks!). We will probably try to publish the lectures in a special issue of a journal and include material of the blog as well then (we are not yet sure how to do this). The blog will remain online for a while but in the future the blog could move entirely to this blog as a special section. Also on behalf of Henk Driessen I would like to say thanks to all the speakers of the workshop, the contributors to the blog and the discussants and participants of the workshop who made the whole endeavour succesfull.

To close this entry I would like to add that I would be a very bad public anthropologist when I did not write in Dutch anymore. Too bad for my English readers, but also in the future many posts will be in Dutch (I usually write one in Dutch and one in English every week). In Dutch I have tried to explain some of the motives of people who vote for the anti-Islam Freedom Party of Geert Wilders and try to go beyond the unsubstantiated claims that it is all about anti-islam sentiments and to take the voters seriously instead of mocking them for example in a post called Hungry Wolves – Wilders, PVV and Far Right. A similar analysis was written in English after the recent elections: Europe and Islam: Dutch Elections – Have the Dutch become intolerant? Another issue that has already been mentioned here is the instrumentalization of free speech to include and/or exclude minorities. In a Dutch post I try to extend this argument by pointing to something I coined as ‘freedomnarcissism‘: a form of behaviour that is characterized by an obsession with freedom of the self combined with egoïsm, a lack of empathy and an attempt to be the alpha male (it is often about male bloggers who fiercely attack others who take objection to their self-proclaimed freedom of speech heroism). It is about people who try to immunize themselves against critique from the outside by pointing to the freedom of speech and use the same freedom of speech to harm others. The idea is loosely based upon Christoffer Lash’s Culture of Narcissism who states that people are afraid to be meaningless and as a result develop all kinds of counter-strategies to feel real. Other popular Dutch posts are about the movie Avatar and the publication of a letter of a young Muslim, Jason Walters, convicted for terrorism. In this letter he revises his view on jihad, politics, violence and the position of Muslims in the West. Also both posts featuring my PhD (English summary HERE) are still quite popular.

A new feature on my blog in 2010 were the contributions of guest authors. Martin van Bruinessen on the Gülenmovement (in Dutch), Joas Wagemakers on the Ideology and Influence of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Michel Hoebink of Radio Netherlands on Wilders’ outdated colonial rhetoric were the first with excellent contributions. I will certainly invite more guest authors in 2011 and people can send in their own contributions as well (those will be reviewed by another colleague and myself). I hope I can continue my line of blogging in the coming years. For now let me say thank you to all my readers, colleagues and most of all the people I work with in my research for their valuable input, comments, criticisms and jokes.




Zoeken naar een ‘zuivere’ islam. Geloofsbeleving en identiteitsvorming onder jonge Marokkaans-Nederlandse moslims, Amsterdam: Bert Bakker

Searching for a ‘pure’ Islam. Religious Beliefs and Identity Construction among Moroccan-Dutch Youth, Amsterdam: Bert Bakker (In Press). The Ph.D thesis will be in Dutch. The English summary is here. Read my article in the ISIM Review HERE.

With Roeland, Johan, Stef Aupers, Dick Houtman, and Ineke Noomen. 2010. “Zoeken naar zuiverheid. Religieuze purificatie onder jonge new-agers, evangelicalen en moslims.” Sociologie 11-30.

‘The Quest for Religious Purity in New Age, Evangelicalism and Islam: Religious Renditions of Dutch Youth and the Luckmann Legacy’, in: Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion – 2009: Youth and Religion (with Stef Aupers, Dick Houtman, Ineke Noomen and Johan Roeland


Islam is Islam. Punt uit? Marokkaans-Nederlandse moslimjongeren in Gouda en de culturele constructie van een ‘zuivere’ islam. Migrantenstudies 25, no. 1: 59-72.
Moslimjongeren. De salafi-beweging en de vorming van een morele gemeenschap. Tijdschrift voor Criminologie, no. 4: 375-385.

Chapters in edited volumes


With Bartels, Edien, Kim Knibbe, and Oscar Salemink. 2010. “Cultural Identity as a Key Dimension of Human Security in Western Europe: The Dutch Case.” Pp. 116-133 in A World of Insecurity. Anthropological Perspectives On Human Security, Eds. Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Ellen Bal, and Oscar Salemink. London: Pluto Press.

“Understanding Dutch Islam: Exploring the Relationship of Muslims with the State and the Public Sphere in the Netherlands.” Pp. 181-197 in Muslim Diaspora in the West Negotiating Gender, Home and Belonging, Eds. Haideh Moghissi en Halleh Ghorashi. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing.

With Roel Meijer. “Going All the Way: Politicization and Radicalization of the Hofstad Network in the Netherlands.” Pp. 220-239 in Identity and Participation in Culturally Diverse Societies: A Multidisciplinary Perspective, Eds. Assaad E. Azzi, Xenia Chryssochoou, Bernd Klandermans, and Bernd Simon. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

With Van Dijk-Groeneboer, Monique, and Joris Kregting, en Johan Roeland. 2010. “Ze Geloven Het Wel.” Pp. 25-88 in Handboek Jongeren en Religie. Katholieke, protestantse en islamitische jongeren in Nederland, Ed. Van Dijk-Groeneboer. Amsterdam: Parthenon.

De Koning, Martijn. 2010. “Zoeken naar Zuiverheid en Authenticeit..” Pp. 159-175 in Handboek Jongeren en Religie. Katholieke, protestantse en islamitische jongeren in Nederland,Ed. Monique Van Dijk-Groeneboer. Amsterdam: Parthenon.


Changing Worldviews and Friendship. An Exploration of the Life Stories of Two Female Salafists in the Netherlands. In Global Salafism. Islam’s New Religious Movement, Ed. Roel Meijer, 372-392. London: Hurst.

Netherlands. In Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Ed. Jorgen Nielsen, Samim Akgönül, Brigitte Maréchal, en Christian Moe, 1:243-257. Leiden: Brill.

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