Sussex Centre for Migration Research

EURISLAM: Finding a Place for Islam in Europe

Background

Funded by the European Union (FP7), the project will examine the consequences of existing approaches on the patterns of cultural distance and interaction that have evolved between Muslim migrants and the societies where they have settled. Entitled ‘Finding a Place for Islam in Europe: Cultural Interaction between Muslim Migrants and Receiving Societies’ (EURISLAM) and involving partners in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the project, which will run until 2013, will study migrant groups of Moroccans, Pakistanis, Turks and former Yugoslavs.

The project will examine how Muslims are portrayed in the mass media and relate this to migrant groups’ own perceptions, identities and cultural behavior that are gauged by opinion data. This approach will allow the research team to examine the extent to which mass-media representations of ‘culture clashes’ and Muslims’ cultural demands are similar to, or different from, the experiences of ordinary people. It will also show to what extent public discourses over the position of Islam – often repeated in academic and policy debates – are representative of the real demands and cultural issues that confront Muslims, and over which they have concerns and opinions.

Research Questions

  1. What are the differences between European immigration countries in how they deal with cultural and religious differences of immigrant groups in general, and of Muslims in particular?
  2. To what extent do we find differences across immigration countries in cultural distance and patterns of interaction between various Muslim immigrant groups and the receiving society population?
  3. To what extent can cross-national differences in cultural distance and patterns of interethnic and interreligious interaction be explained by the different approaches that immigration countries have followed towards the management of cultural difference in general and Islam in particular?

Design and Methods

To meet the research objectives, we combine multiple sources and methods of analysis, both quantitative and qualitative. The overall design is cross-country cross-group comparative. The research is divided into six workpackages: two dealing with national contextual factors (institutional and media-related); two devoted to a survey of Muslim (Ex-Yugoslavian, Moroccan, Pakistani, Turkish) and ‘native’ populations in each country; one examining transnational Muslim families through an innovative quasi-experimental approach; and one looking at two crucial stakeholder groups (policy-makers and leaders of Muslim organizations) through semi-structured interviews.

Institutional partners

Our international partners in the EurIslam collaboration are teams led by Professor Jean Tillie (coordinator, University of Amsterdam), Professor Ruud Koopmans (WZB Berlin), Dr Marco Giugni (University of Geneva), Professor Dirk Jacobs (Université Libre de Bruxelles), and Dr Manlio Cinalli (Fondation Nationale de Sciences Politiques).

Advisory board

Philip Lewis is Adviser on Christian-Muslim relations to the Bishop of Bradford, UK, and lectures in the Department of Peace Studies of the University of Bradford.
Sadek Hamid is responsible for the Foundation Degree in Muslim Youth Work at Chester University, which started in September 2007.