Time and Location

Monday, 27. January 2014, 17:00 - 21:00
Diplomatic Academy Wien, Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Vienna


Critical Student Perspectives

The Problematic Relationship between Religion and State Policy in Contemporary Egypt
Sawsan Kanan, Birzeit University, Palestine

Mainstream Liberal/Secular Approaches to Tackling Gender-Based Violence in Palestine: Why Have These Failed?
Hanan Kaoud, Birzeit University, Palestine

Beyond Secularism and Islamism

Fragmentation of the Secular
Wael Hallaq,  Columbia University, New York

Secularism and Islamism: What Future?
Islah Jad, Institute of Women’s Studies, Birzeit University, Palestine

Detailed program

Beyond Secularism and Islamism - Persepctives for the Arab World

© Nikolaus Herzog


With the upheavals in the Arab world tensions have been growing between 'secular' and 'Islamic' conceptions of society. Both in political confrontations in Tunisia as well as with the recent military coup in Egypt or the war in Syria an unbridgeable separation between Islamic and as secular defined notions and ideas seems to have burned in. Under conditions of extreme poverty, war, and ongoing interventions an existing pluralism of societal designs seems to be obviously no longer negotiable.  Basic ideas – be it 'secular' or be it 'Islamic'- are subject to a logic of confrontation and are being used as an important weapon in political debates. Can there still be such a thing as 'Beyond Secularism and Islamism' and how could that look like?
The event marks the completion of our project Dialoguing Across the Religious/Secular Divide which has been carried out jointly between VIDC and the Institute for Women's Studies at Birzeit University in Palestine. Among other things, a discussion forum for students and teachers was established to open a space beyond current logics of confrontation in order to critically analyze both secular and Islamic society and state models. After all, thinking beyond secularism and Islamism includes both a critical analysis of existing ideas as well as reflecting on what we actually mean when we speak of 'secular' or 'Islamic'.