Conference on Islam in Russia
Thursday, October 15-16, 2015
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Call for Paper Proposals
The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University invites submissions of paper proposals for an international conference on Islam in Russia.
Islam in Russia takes many forms, from the Tatars’ moderate EuroIslam to traditional Sufism in the Caucasus to the radicalized Salafi ideas found among a minority of young Muslims throughout the country. These different Muslim identities interact with a state that has in recent years come to be increasingly dominated by ethnic Russian and Orthodox Christian identities. At the same time, the strengthening of the Russian state has led it to increase its influence on Muslim religious practices and the everyday lives of Russian Muslims.
The Crimean crisis of 2014 has again highlighted the significance of Islam in contemporary Russia. The Russian government tried to mobilize state-supported Muslim organizations to sway Crimean Tatars to its side. This strategy was consistent with Moscow’s long-standing practice of co-opting religious groups by appointing a state-sanctioned representative. Since the time of Catherine the Great, Islamic authorities were expected to promote interpretations of Islam that supported the state. Needless to say, attempting to co-op believers into supporting a particular religious interpretation runs the risk of alienating those who disagree with the official interpretation. The resulting power struggles have played an important role in shaping Muslim identity in Russia in the post-Soviet period.
This conference will focus on what it means to be a Muslim in Russia today and how these meanings are reflected in Russian political life. Conference participants will examine the variety of Muslim identities in modern Russia and also consider the evolving role of Muslims in Russian history.