Follow Us

Gerda Henkel Stiftung – Special Programme Islam, the Modern Nation State and Transnational Movements

Gerda Henkel Stiftung


Special Programme Islam, the Modern Nation State and Transnational Movements

Call for proposals

The special programme “Islam, the Modern Nation State and Transnational Movements” is aimed at researchers who, with an eye to current developments, are examining the emergence of political movements in the Islamic world at the national and/or transnational level. Historical studies are encouraged and supported, together with projects in the areas of religious, cultural or political science: What emancipatory, what modern elements does political Islam promise and integrate? What developments, what connections, what similarities in the key categories, interpretations and claims are to be drawn between pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism at the close of the 19th century and the movements of today? What historical self-descriptions are recognizable in the concepts? Via what specific ideas of communalisation can social radicalisation and mobilisation for violence be legitimised?

The special programme takes a look at the dynamics between Islamic teachings, Islamism, nationalism and transnational orientations and environments. Scientific discussion of the countries and regions of the Islamic world should bring together expertise possessing regional and thematic focus in order to allow the problems associated with areas of conflict to be expounded upon, particularly with regard to global influences and processes of cultural exchange.

Proposals will be supported that address the particularities and contexts of cultural and historical environments and relationships. The projects’ deliverables should be able to make a contribution to diverse and expert discussions in public and political circles.

Applications are invited for funding research scholarships and research projects. PhD scholarships are only granted in connection with a research project.

Academic coordination is provided by the Institut für Diaspora- und Genozidforschung in Bochum, led by Prof. Dr. Mihran Dabag (tel. +49 234
32 29702, email: The Foundation’s Board of Trustees decides on the applications on the basis of recommendation by expert referees and members of the Academic Advisory Committee. The individual research areas

  1. Historical and present day Islamic systems of society and state

Central to this funding area are historical and political science studies examining the perceptions of society and the state in Islamic civilisations. Within the framework of these projects, research into specific regions and developed ideas of the state and society should be linked with questions relating to the respective designs for organization and constitution. Central to the investigation should be questions around the relationship between secular and religious ideas and institutions, the conceptions of particular political representation relationships, and the constitutions of legal or social systems, together with the ordering of gender and social relationships. Attention should also be paid in this context to the question of encounters with and responses to historical processes in Christian Europe between the Middle Ages and the present; for instance responses to the European Enlightenment and the formation of European nations. We are expressly looking for the bringing together of trans-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives, and in particular the linking of historical perspectives with research interests in the fields of religious, cultural and political sciences.

  1. The concept of nation, national movements and nationalism in Islamic civilisation

Central to this funding area are projects that use case studies to examine the emergence of national movements in Islamic civilisation.
In this context, the research could equally well centre on questions relating to the emergence of proto-national movements in the Middle Ages and the early modern period, on the advocates of the idea of the nation in various Islamic countries, on the texts deemed to be of central importance, or the forums and institutions of intellectual reflection or political implementation, or be led by an examination of the processes, rituals and mechanisms by which members of a group determine their commonality and differentiate themselves from others thus defining
(national) membership and non-membership, and the analysis of the resulting territorial claims and the integration/disintegration of Islamic values and ideas of society in the particular national model. In this context there should also inter alia be an examination of the changes/shifts in the definition of what is meant by the terms people, territory, political representation and law in the various concepts of nation as well as the concept of the relationship between religion and laicism.

  1. Islamic fundamentalism or Islamic emancipation?

Central to this funding area are projects that extend knowledge of structures and development dynamics of societies in the modern and the global present in order to furnish deepened knowledge for an analysis of Islamic fundamentalism. The projects should look at historical, social and political developments with the aim of achieving case-study-related, differentiated results. The projects should focus on questions around emancipatory potentials, the frames of reference for selected political texts, conceptions of history or discourses on historical and political identification. Support is also available for wider ranging perspectives that significantly extend, or contrast with, previous research approaches such as critical discussions of the category of fundamentalism.

  1. Transnational civil society movements in the Islamic world

Central to this funding area are projects dealing with civil society movements operating on a broad transnational basis in modern Islamic societies. Principal questions are how these movements internally resolve tensions between secular and religious members, aims and objectives, and how they conduct themselves to be able to operate in both the Islamic and western or secular-nationalist or socialist oriented states in the Islamic world; in other words, how do they overcome religious and ideological barriers. Projects supported within this funding area should also examine movements that expressly seek dialogue with non-Islamic partners.

  1. Islamic states in the international world system

Central to this funding area are projects that examine the attitudes and positions of Islamic states in present-day structures and discourses within international politics. The central question addressed in the projects should be that of how the Islamic states are defined in a global system of international politics, what prognoses currently exists as to the development of the Islamic states and what dangers are diagnosed. Not least within this focal area projects should also examine the political-analytical categories and concepts that are used in the West to describe developments in the Islamic world and which thus determine on the one hand the discussions on possible areas of conflict and potential sources of violence and, on the other, the strategies for a dialogue with Islam. This discussion could be expanded by drawing upon the current state of play in individual Islamic states or groupings of states.

Contact Person

Thomas Podranski, M.A.

Project Manager Special Programmes Islam, the Modern Nation State and Transnational Movements / Security, Society and the State

Please take a look at the information provided in this section and under General References. We would of course be happy to assist you should you have any further questions.