Closing the year 2011 – Featuring…2011

The year 2011 will probably live on in history like for example 1989. More than 32,000 hits for more than 220 posts later it is time to look back. I decided last year that this blog would probably benefit from working with guest authors; in most cases colleagues but also stories from the field by the people I work with. People like Asef Bayat, Linda Herrera, Samuli Schielke, Roel Meijer, Joas Wagemakers and others have all written one or more guest posts. Sometimes on their own work but in most cases on the Arab uprisings. The most read story in this categorie is also the most popular story on this blog: Egypt – After the Revolution, by Samuli Schielke. The second one in this category is Linda Herrera’s Two Faces of Revolution about Mohamed Bouazid and Khaled Said. Also Linda’s piece on the role of social media, Egypt’s Revolution 2.0 – The Facebook Factor has become one of the most popular pieces on this blog. Usually my weekly updates score high as well but only for a short period. An exception in this case is the update in week five featuring the Tunisia and Egypt uprisings which I basically turned into an essential reading list of that time. More can be found in the section Society & Politics in the Middle East.

For my field the other landmark in 2011 was of course the terrorist attack in Norway in July when Anders Behring Breivik literally and symbolically dropped a bomb on the myth of a tolerant Europe. One of the main debates in the Netherlands was, not very surprising, not only the link people made with Muslims and Al Qaeda when the news broke out but also if Breivik was not the ultimate consequence of Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam ideology. My own piece on the link between belief, ideology and violence where I briefly point to these issues became the most popular piece written by myself in English. The most popular entry however on Dutch issues was Annelies Moors’ take on the recent burqa debates in the Netherlands: Minister Donner as Mufti: New Developments in the Dutch ‘burqa debates’. This piece was not only read many times but also spread on several websites and among colleagues. It is not always easy and self-evident for colleagues who work with Muslims to speak out in public. In an excellent piece Maurits Berger shows what the consequences can be if one does: Campus Watch, but better – Freedom Party and Politics of Obstruction. Whatever the consequences however this blog will continue as will do I with my research. At the moment I’m rounding up my research on Salafism and trying to broaden my research scope to the issue of Muslim activism. In 2012 there will be a few posts rounding up my research on Salafism; these posts will be based upon articles and chapters I wrote as well as on the Dutch book I’m writing with my colleagues Joas Wagemakers and Carmen Becker. I already did a round up on the radicalization of Muslims – What we know and dont know. One example of my focus in Muslim activism on my blog is my report on the debate between Irshad Manji and Dutch politician Tofik Dibi on reform in Islam that was disturbed by a group of Muslim. I hope to use that blogentry as the starting point for an scientific article in 2012. And of course in 2012 I will continue to reflect on the theme of blogging and public anthropology as I did in 2011 for example in Anthropology: Blog This!.

Thanks to my guest authors 2011 is the first year that my English language articles are more popular than my Dutch language articles. Nevertheless we can see a similar pattern here. Among the most popular articles there are several on the Arab revolutions, with Nina ter Laan’s the Moroccan Exception as the number one (De Marokkaanse Uitzondering). Another popular article is my own article debunking a Dutch blogger who thinks having a prayer mark on your forehead is a sign of radicalism or even Al Qaeda influence: Analyzing the Libyan Revolution is not task for failures (Analyse van de Libische Revolutie is vooral geen voor prutsers). Also in the Dutch section a blog dealing with the ‘burqa debates’ is popular. In this case the report on a demonstration against the proposal for a ban on the ‘burqa’ by a radical group ‘See and Hear’ – Impression of a protest against the ban on the face veil’ (‘Zien en horen’ – Impressie protest verbod gezichtssluier). That Islam is a hot issue is not surprising and when transnational links between Dutch mosques and UAE organisations are revealed this gets even more attention as shown in a brief post on a Kuwaiti television program that shows the end of Ramadan in a Dutch mosque in Amsterdam (Moskee Slotervaart Amsterdam in Koeweit). And also here it is clear what the consequences can be when one speaks out in public. In one post I revealed the existence of several black lists: Supremacy and Fear – Lists of Betrayers of Nation, Culture and Race (Suprematie en Angst: Lijsten van Land-, Cultuur- en Rasverraders). The most popular story in Dutch however, and no. 2 on the overall list, is a report on the expected and contested visit of sheik Al-Maghraoui and sheikh Al-‘Arifi to the Netherlands. The first is called the pedo-imam in the Netherlands because he condones marrying under-age girls, the latter has been accused of approving the hitting of women by their men (an accusation that I think does not entirely stick). The story ‘Toothpicks, Visa and Women – the story of two sheikhs’ has become popular mainly because, I think, it is a very good and nuanced round up of the whole discussion and foremost because it is spread both by opponents and supporters of the Salafi mosques they were supposed to visit (Tandenstokers, visum en vrouwen – Een verhaal van twee sheikhs).

As every year several older posts end up high in the list of most popular. Two of them deal with the theme of an Islamic takeover of Europe. Islamizing Europe – Muslim Demographics is the most popular post in this site (when I began counting in 2006) and the Dutch post on the Islamization of the Netherlands (‘Islamisering’ van Nederland) deals with a similar theme; the former concentrating on the flawed perception of a growing Muslim community in Europe and the latter engaging with examples that appear to demonstrate that the takeover is already taking place. Only the Dutch language entry on politics and hiphop from 2007 – Politiek en Rap: Salah Edin en Appa – has been a long term hit like Muslim Demographics. Sometimes it surprises me when a post becomes very popular. Probably because there aren’t many researchers dealing with this theme my post on anime art and Muslims of last year is also very popular now. Probably two other posts (outside the guest authors category) have the potential of becoming a classic for this blog. The first one deals with the commercialization of the idea of a Dutch nation and Dutch culture and how banal racism and nationalism play a role in Dutch commercials. The blog – Dutch blend – Islam, race, nationalism and buying local in the Netherlands, is one of the most linked and spread on other blogs and webfora. The second one is the most linked blogentry and deals with the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet whereby the racist roots (blackface) of Zwarte Piet are explored and discussed; Jolly Black Servant – Tradition and Racism in the Netherlands. In particular Global Voices has linked to this post in several languages. There are two Dutch and one English posts that seem somewhat strange by showing up in the most popular list. First one deals with a cycling classic in Belgium, the tour of Flanders, and more in particular deals with the Flemish flags used by supporters during that race. – Ronde van Vlaanderen Vlagt – the second one with a chaotic debate on TV a few years ago ‘Rwina – Stijl in debat‘ and the third is about art, feminism and Muslim women, featuring an exhibition in 2009 – Rebelle Art – Feminism and Muslim Women. All three probably score high because they deal with a public phenomenon that is not explained in much detail anywhere else; the different flags in Belgium, an explanation of the word ‘rwina’ which is difficult to translate into Dutch or English. In the case of Rebelle Art it is probably the combination of the three topics: art, feminism and Muslim women.

For 2012 I think there will certainly be more entries by Guest Authors and given the attempt to start new research on activism there will be more reports in the categories Activism and in Notes from the Field.

Allow me to finish this last entry of 2012 to point you to some of the diamonds outside this blog. I discovered two new blogs in 2011 quicly becoming one of my weekly reads. First of all Living Anthropologically. I think Jason Antrosio’s round up of 2011 makes clear why. The next one is Aaron Bady’s Zunguzungu, just have a look at it. But also don’t forget Ethnografix, a blog by Ryan Anderson who also founded the new online magazine Anthropologies. A must read for those interested in (social) media and anthropology is John Postill’s Media/Anthropology blog. Have a look at his selection of the best of 2011. For more good anthropology blogs you can always have a look at the new site Anthropology Report that features 100 blogs (and I’m very honoured Closer is on the list). The site has a survey now and if you are quick you can still submit your favorites. If you are still hungry for more then read also the 2011 lists at Scientific American (Ladybusiness Anthropology Edition by Kate Clancy), Retort (2011 – The year in me) and Somatosphere (A year in review) and Global Voices (Egypt: 2011 in Blog Posts) and go on to Juan Cole’s Top Ten Myths about the Arab Spring. Then if you are still not satisfied read the wonderful things Subashini read in 2011. If you are still not satisfied, I dont know what will but trying coming back in 2012.

My publications in 2011 can be found HERE

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