In recent times, many countries in the predominantly Muslim world moved into a time of promise for transition and of opening to democratic development, of which the so-called Arab Spring formed a part. Despite the recent reversals of these processes in Egypt and the ongoing tragedy of Syria – and perhaps even more so by way of contrast to these, notwithstanding the recent civil unrest in Turkey itself – there has been a developing interest in the “Turkish model” of transition from authoritarianism to democracy.
As a leading movement in contemporary Turkey with a universal educational and inter-faith agenda, the Gülen movement aims to promote creative and positive relations between the West and the Muslim world and to articulate a critically constructive position on such issues as democracy, multi-culturalism, globalisation, and interfaith dialogue in the context of secular modernity.
The Muslim World and Politics in Transition includes chapters written by international scholars with expertise in relation to the contexts that it addresses. It discusses how the Gülen movement has positioned itself and has sought to contribute within societies – including the movement’s home country of Turkey – in which Muslims are in the majority and Islam forms a major part of the cultural, religious and historical inheritance.
An introductory overview of the book’s chapters and themes will be provided by one of its co-editors, Paul Weller, Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby, leading into discussions with respondents to the book as well as wider participants in the event.
Biography of Paul Weller
Paul Weller is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby, where he is Head of Research and Commercial Development in the Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences. He is a Visiting Fellow in the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford and a founder and Trustee of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby (http:// www.multifaithcentre.org). He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Dialogue Society and a Trustee of the Interreligiöse Arbeitsstelle in Germany (http://www. interrel.de). He was a founder member of the Joppa Group of Baptist Christians engaged in inter-faith dialogue and is currently a member of the Baptist Union of Great Britain’s Inter-Faith Working Group. On a European level he has been a consultant to Belieforama (http://www.belieforama.eu), a community of practice based around the development of a prize-winning training programme in religious diversity and anti-discrimination.
Biography of Ihsan Yilmaz
Ihsan Yilmaz is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fatih University, Istanbul. He is the author of Muslim Laws, Politics and Society in Modern Nation States: Dynamic Legal Pluralisms in England, Turkey and Pakistan, (Ashgate, 2005) and co-editor with John L. Esposito Islam and Peacebuilding: Gülen Movement Initiatives (Blue Dome, 2010). Together with Paul Weller, he is also co-editor of European Muslims, Civility and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement (Continuum, 2012).
He is the editor of Turkish Journal of Politics (TJP), and has published his work in international scholarly journals such as British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Journal, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, International Law and Politics Journal. He is a regular columnist of Today’s Zaman, an English language daily published in Turkey. His current research interests are Islam-constitutional law-human rights; and Federal Sharia Court of Pakistan.
Biography of Fabio Petito
Fabio Petito is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sussex and has taught in recent years at SOAS in London, the ESCP-EAP in Paris and at ‘L’Orientale’ University in Naples. He holds a BA in Economic and Social Disciplines (DES) (magna cum laude) from Bocconi University and received his PhD from the department of International Relations at the LSE, where he was also editor of Millennium: Journal of International Studies. Among his publications: Religion in International Relations: The Return from Exile (2003, Italian translation 2006, Chinese translation 2009) and Civilizational Dialogue and World Order: The Other Politics of Cultures, Religions and Civilizations in International Relations (2009). Currently, he is working on a monograph entitled The International Political Theory of Dialogue of Civilization. He is a member of the International Coordinating Committee of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” and Scientific Coordinator of the MAE-ISPI-Trento seminar on ‘Religions and International Relations’
Biography of Filippo Osella
Filippo Osella is Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies (Anthropology, Cultural Studies) and Reader in Social Anthropology (Sussex Centre for Migration Research, International Development) in Sussex University. His specialist areas are: Kerala, South India, South Asia, Gulf countries: social reproduction and stratification;popular religion (Hinduism & Islam) and reform movements; migration; masculinity; consumption.
He conducted his doctoral research in rural Kerala, South India, and published two joint monographs, one on issues of stratification, identity and social mobility among an ex-‘untouchable’ community (Social Mobility in Kerala, 2000, Pluto Press), and another on masculinities (Men and Masculinity in South India, 2007, Anthem Press). His current research, funded by a three year ESRC Research Grant (see ESRC ‘Regard’ database for more details), examines contemporary identity transformations among a South Indian Muslims, with fieldwork in Kozhikode (Calicut) and a number of Gulf Countries. He is currently co-editing a special issue of Modern Asian Studies on ‘Islamic reform movements in South Asia’ (with C Osella); a special issue of South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies on ‘The politics of food in South Asia’ (with C Osella); and a special issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute on ‘Islam, politics and modernity’ (with B Soares)