Exploring new vocabularies in conversations about religion, race, politics, and justice

Nawal Mustafa, Matthea Westerduin

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This article is the outcome of our many conversations as scholars and activists about religion, race, politics, and justice, while living and working in the Netherlands. Raised in different households in terms of religion, race, culture, and migration, we were both unsatisfied, and frustrated even, of how these conversations normally go. In our engagement we wanted to take seriously the many complex dimensions that influence our lives differently, and the ways in which these shape our understanding of equality, our experiences of religion, and our shared struggle for justice. In our view, such conversations are often excluded from academic practice: first, due to processes of knowledge production and the ‘objectification’ of academic knowledge; and second, because definitions of ‘race’ and ‘religion’ limit the possibilities of such engagements. Although ‘race’ is increasingly being addressed in academic spaces, frameworks of ‘colour blindness’ and narrow understandings of race often hold back serious engagements with race and whiteness in academia. In addition, in reflections on Europe’s problematisation of Islam and Muslims, ‘religion’ and the ‘secular’ often remain key terms of understanding. Even though race is increasingly engaged with, academics hardly scrutinise the role of whiteness, race, and theology in their own work. Despite deconstructions of ‘the secular’, moreover, it is not common practice to approach archives, now termed ‘religion’, as possible ‘critique’, or ‘theory’, as archives to think along, against, and within.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransforming Bodies and Religions
Subtitle of host publicationPowers and Agencies in Europe
EditorsMariecke van den Berg, Lieke Schrijvers, Jelle Wiering, Anne-Marie Korte
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780367808754
ISBN (Print)9780367407285, 9780367559670
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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