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SLAVICA JAKELIĆ

Due to his sole preoccupation with a secularized Christian and Western story of human-humanism-humanitarianism, Asad's genealogy misses ongoing, creative, and complex contemporary engagements with the ethics and practices, promises and ambivalences of all humanistic projects—engagements that can and do inform the ways in which humanitarianism is being envisioned, enacted, and critiqued. Read the full article »

USAMA HASAN

In a theme that resonates well with Contending Modernities, Khan has consistently spoken of his (and everyone’s) multiple identities, in his case these being: British, European, Western, Pakistani-origin, Muslim, human rights lawyer, the son of a bus driver and a product of a working-class council estate home. Thus, Khan’s election has the potential to be hugely inspiring and empowering to “minority” or “underdog” groupings, like Barack Obama’s election victory in 2008.

Amidst the confusion and societal atomism engendered by the complexity of our modern world and its telecommunications systems, a well-functioning democracy is one way of bringing people together and giving them belonging: whatever our political and religious differences, we can legitimately say that we (collectively) elected XYZ as Mayor or other elected official, that we voted to remain within the European Union (EU) or to leave it. Read the full article »

MYRIAM FRANÇOIS

London began this past balmy weekend with the news that Sadiq Khan has been elected Mayor of London in a landslide victory–achieving the biggest personal mandate of any politician in UK history.

“Victory for Sadiq Khan highlights tolerant face of London,” says the Financial Times. Indeed, despite some efforts to present Sadiq as a secret Al-Qaeda-supporting fanatic out to impose public beheadings south of the London Eye, Londoners–or at least 57 per cent of them–do not seem to have bought into the idea that Khan is in fact a secret extremist. Read the full article »

HAMID DABASHI

There is no doubt the election of Sadiq Khan is a momentous occasion, a shock to the xenophobic fear-mongering flooding Europe from the UK to Greece. But we should not fetishize the fact that he is a Muslim, but rather celebrate the tenacity of a working-class immigrant family to raise a child with the audacity to imagine himself running such a magnificent city. His Muslim background and demeanor, his family's Muslim names, his use of the Qur’an in his official ceremonies, all signal a significant symbolic register in European self-consciousness: Muslims are here, and are here to stay. Read the full article »

LOREN LYBARGER

The recent London mayoral election was never going to be a run-of-the-mill poll no matter what the gadflies might have told us about Muslims having a long history of running Western cities. Not in this moment, in which Muslims figure in Western public opinion as a threat to civilizational order near and far. On the contrary, coming just one day after Donald Trump’s rise as presumptive Republican nominee for the Presidency of the United States, the election of Sadiq Khan, son of working-class Pakistani immigrants and a practicing Muslim, could only have been an exceptional moment. Read the full article »

M. CHRISTIAN GREEN

The framework of radicalization, extremism, and terror may seem a grim background to be celebrating the election of Sadiq Khan as the Mayor of London and, indeed, the first Muslim mayor of a Western capital. But it is a necessary one in order to appreciate the importance and potential of the moment. The burden of being a demographic “first” is never an easy one, especially for “firsts” laden with social, cultural, and political symbolism—for that we can observe the many trials, tribulations, and, at times, the missed opportunities of the presidency of Barack Obama in the US. Read the full article »

Feb. 23, 2016; Atalia Omer - Keough Faculty. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Contending Modernities welcomes our newest co-director Dr. Atalia Omer. As a scholar trained in the theories and methods of the study of religion she brings expertise in religion, conflict and peacebuilding as well as attention to conceptual questions of modernity and secularism. Read the full article »