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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Laufende Forschungsprojekte

Studying Islam abroad - Students' Mobility, Life-Chances and Translocal Muslim Practice in-between Tajikistan and the Arab World

 

Das Forschungsprojekt ist Teil des von der VolkswagenStiftung finanzierten Forschungsprojektes "Translocal Goods - Education, Work, and Commodities between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, China, and the Arab Emirates".

 

This anthropological project deals with the translocal mobilities and livelihoods of young Tajiks who study Islam and work in Arab countries.

The project links the vitality of translocal and global Islamic practices with the growing importance of international educational migration as an opportunity for young Tajiks to improve their life-chances in and beyond a national ‘home’ setting that is marked by a weak economic performance, mass labour migration and a rigid secular state agenda. One part of the project aims at illuminating the important role Islamic education abroad plays within processes of individual religious awakening and the remaking of the Muslim self among young Muslims in post-Soviet and post-civil-war Tajikistan. The project’s regional focus on the Arab region (particularly on the United Arab Emirates and Egypt) refers to the strong impact of Arab interpretations and images of what is perceived by many Muslims in Tajikistan as “true” or “pure” Islam. Taking into account the students’ everyday life practices and realities as well their spatial mobilities that span the place of study, ‘home’ and beyond the project examines how these images and interpretations are circulated, merged and negotiated in various (trans)local contexts, as for example in the family or kinship group.

Employing a holistic perspective the second part of the project aims at tracing religious motivated students’ mobility as an opportunity to accumulate transnational capital (through language skills, international degrees, co-presence in sacred places, knowledge of Arabic language and Koran) that advances social respect and can promote religious and secular careers. Referring to the United Arab Emirates as a lucrative place for seasonal job opportunities, the project also examines the intersections of education and work. It investigates how the students are able to utilize translocal Islamic networks as an everyday resource for economic advancement and social mobility.

Linking the students’ work trajectories as (seasonal) traders, businessmen, brokers or Imams with their religious pursuits, the third part of the project traces the close entanglement of work and religion in the translocal livelihoods of my interlocutors. This topic implies a bundle of questions that cover religious concepts of ‘proper’ work, the perfection of piety through doing work properly, and the evaluation of work in accordance to Islamic ideals.

The project bases on a ‘multisited ethnography’ approach and comprises fieldwork in Tajikistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Trade business in Dubai: The furs trade sector in Dubai’s old city quarter offers Tajik students lucrative jobs as illegal street brokers, job owners or businessmen (2013).
Monetary flows in-between the Emirates und Tajikistan: A rich Tajik businessman living in Dubai has funded the construction of the ‘new mosque’ in Kolkhozobod (southern Tajikistan). The mosque is headed by an Imam-Khotib trained in Saudi Arabia (2014).