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ASPS Virtual Event Series IV: Exploring Contemporary Shi’ism in European and Mediterranean Contexts
April 9, 2021 @ 4:00 am - 11:00 am EDT
Exploring Contemporary Shi’ism in European and Mediterranean Contexts:
A Glance at the Recent Evolutions of Shi’ism in the Region
On 9 April 2021, Sapienza University of Rome, Research Centre for Cooperation with Eurasia, the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa (CEMAS), Institute of Political Studies “S. Pio V” Observatory on the Mediterranean (OSMED) and the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies held an online study day on contemporary Shi’ism. In this event, some scholars from different national backgrounds presented the results of their studies and analyzed Shi’ism from anthropological and sociological viewpoints.
The conference was the first attempt of this kind in Italy and aimed at preparing a suitable terrain for dialogue on contemporary Shi’ism and its evolution in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. The three panels of the conference were divided based on the thematic lines and geographic zones. The first panel presented a state of the art of research on contemporary Shi’ism as studied in the West, whereas the second and the third panels were devoted to the case studies and geographical specific areas.
The first panel was about the relation of modernity and Shi’a studies. Migration, identity and the relation between European secular states with Shi’ism were among the thematic lines. Scholars discussed the ways in which Shi’as in Europe negotiate the tension between religious duty and forms of secularized civic belonging. In such a context the meaning of being Shi’a is created through negotiation with new contexts of settlement,
The second and third panels investigated the cases of some Mediterranean countries besides Iran and Iraq. The southern European countries, namely Italy, Spain and Greece – presented in the final panels – have experienced the presence of Shi’a minorities later than Britain. Therefore, their shorter experience generates Islamophobic tendencies and the unfamiliarity of the context with the Shi’a rituals. The panels provided an excellent terrain for comparing the Shi’a experience in southern Europe with their homelands, namely Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.
This study day opened the door to future initiatives on contemporary Shi’ism in Italy. It has created a network of scholars active in this field of study and generated a platform for dialogue among young and senior scholars on this subject. Moreover, it offered new and easily accessible insights to academic and non-academic audience who assisted the conference.