Panel 1H

Authority always in Mutation: Performing Contestation in the Mediterranean

10.45 – 12.45
Chair: Laura Galián, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

The Turn to Anti-Authoritarian Left of the Seventies’ Generation in Egypt: The Case of Sameh Said Abud

Laura Galián, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Sameh Said Abud has been considered the father of Egyptian anti-authoritarian leftist theories, and by extend, that of the Arabic speaking world. His writings on workers and economic collectivism are at the forefront in Arabic language. Since the 90s, he is a reference for the spread of anarchism, anti-authoritarianism and collectivism in the South of the Mediterranean. The theoretical production of Sameh Said Abud has been pivotal in the re-emergence of anarchist and collectivist movements in the South of the Mediterranean and their decolonization in non-Western contexts.  In this paper we will try to draw some attention to the the disillusionment of the 70s generation with Marxism and Arab Socialism after 67 events, the social politicization of this generation (Duboc 2011) and the need to seek answers and alternatives to the paradigm of the Arab left that failed to fulfill the expectations of the decolonization process. Focusing on Sameh Said Abud as a case study, we will critically examine the classical dichotomy between theory and practice and the relationship of this generation to political activism. Our goal is to answer the following questions: Why did some young Marxists and Communists turn to anti-authoritarian politics in the 80s? What has been the main outcome of this turn to non-Party politics in Egypt? How did they theorize and justify their political choice?

The Configuration of Muslim leadership in Spain and the Entangled Histories of Spain and Morocco

Elena Arigita, Universidad de Granada

1992 is the key date for the institutionalization of Islam in Spain: that year the State signed the Agreement of Cooperation with the Islamic Commission of Spain, giving to Islam the status of recognized religious minority. However, the current visibility of Islam is marked by the terrorist attacks to Madrid in 2004 that were immediately and unavoidably linked to the global fear of Islam. During the months that followed the attacks, the new government strengthened the cooperation with its neighbour country, Morocco. While the official relationship is historically very close, and traditionally each new Spanish government begins its foreign visits in Morocco, this time the institutional agenda would be intensified in the issues of terrorism and immigration, also of religious affairs.  The strategy of close cooperation with Morocco actually reflects certain continuities in modern times, as well as reveals the weight both political and demographic of the Muslim population of Moroccan origin. This paper will explore the continuities and ruptures in the politics of Islam since the time of the Protectorate to observe how the current configuration of the Muslim leadership of Spain relies partly in this colonial history, and partly in the fact that the majority Muslim population of Spain has this Moroccan background. This approach will shed light over the current crisis and fight among different factions to lead the Islamic Commission after 2004 as well as it will show how the national politics of Islam rely heavily on the transnational space and international relations between Morocco and Spain.

“Do Not Fast Until You See It…”: Muslim Unity, Authority and Transnational Space in the French Debate about the Date of Ramadan 2013

Frank Peter, Hamad bin Khalifa University, College of Islamic Studies

Since the late 1980s, successive French governments have proclaimed the aim to unify in a top-down manner Muslim institutions and create national and regional representative bodies , the Councils of Muslim Worship (founded in 2003). The question how this process has affected transnational structures of French Islam has been studied primarily with regard to national federations which are linked notably to Algeria, Morocco and Turkey. Much ess attention has been paid to examining the effects of this development on the level of local mosque associations which constitute the institutional backbone of French Islam.  This paper will make a contribution to such a study by examining the broad controversies which erupted after the 2013 announcement, by the French Council of Muslim Worship, to henceforth determine the dates of the month of Ramadan by astronomical calculation instead of sightings of the moon. The aim was to unify the practice of French Muslims. This announcement was one of the few significant measures taken by the Council which had been suffering since its inception from divisions between its constituent federations. After massive criticism by mosque associations, the Council abandoned this project. The paper will examine the intense debates which erupted after the Council’s announcement concentrating on the double question how participants defined the “unity” of Muslims in relation to borders and authority structures.

For Secularism and for Jihadism: Ibn Rushd Authority

Luz Gómez, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

By the end of the 20th century Ibn Rushd’s philosophical and juridical legacy has been hold by two opposite Muslim understandings: that of his traditional defenders, the champions of an Islamic enlightenment rooted in rationalism; and that of the modern jihadists, who have found on Ibn Rushd a fruitful sunni supporter for their war against disbelief (kufr). Muslim readings on Ibn Rushd as authority both for secularists and jihadists let us to analyze the translation of medieval texts and contexts into modernity.   Our aim is to explore how contemporary Ibn Rushd’s sons liquate (Zygmunt Bauman, 1997) Islamic authority in order to support two antithetical projects in terms of emancipation. On the one hand, we study the secular appropriation of Ibn Rushd by the Indian Salman Rushdie in mythical terms (Joseph Anton. A memoir, 2012) and by the Moroccan Mohamed Abid al-Jabri in a nationalistic scope (Naqd al-`aql al-arabi, 1982). On the other hand, we inquire into the ways that the Palestinian Abdallah Azzam (Ilhaq bi-l-qafila, 1987) and the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri (al-Tabri’a, 2008) display a modern appropriation of Ibn Rushd universal authority for their jihadist worldview.

Cross-Border Movement of People in 16th-Century Northern Morocco

Tomoaki Shinoda, The University of Tokyo

My presentation investigates the development of cross-border movements of people and the state control over them in a Muslim-Christian frontier in northern Morocco during the first half of the 16th century. A politico-religious border had been drawn between the Muslims and Christians as a consequence of the many changes in the diplomatic relationship between the Portuguese and the Wa???sid dynasty over the 15th century. This presentation attempts to explore whether this border was rigid enough to prevent the movements of people in entirety. By examining articles of a new treaty concluded in 1538 and Portuguese accounts that provide information about issues between Muslims and Christians on the frontier, we found that the two states planned to control the influx of Muslims into once-evacuated lands and to ensure the safety of the frontier. Such movements gradually increased despite the military confrontation between the states and affected the characteristics of the treaty. We also found that the Wa???sid policy attempted to strengthen the state’s direct control over the frontier to the detriment of local governors by ensuring its jurisdiction over the Muslims who crossed the border to areas under Portuguese domination. Our findings necessitate revision of a traditional view according to which the dynasty lost its authority by compromising with the Christians and concluding treaties with them, because the study reveals that the conflict between the dynasty and the local governors over the control of the frontier had a grave effect on the political structure of the region.

Download Paper (Shinoda)