CME Contemporary Islam CfP

May 28th, 2009

Call for Papers

Same but different – Christians and Muslims in the Middle East

Special edition of Contemporary Islam, spring 2010


Christians and Muslims (and other religious groups) in the so-called Middle East have for centuries shared the same socio-cultural, political, and economic environment. Having become a numerical minority in the area and isolated from Christians in the West, one strategy of survival for Christians in this region has historically been the discursive, ritual, and practical construction of “difference”, of their “otherness” in relation to their non-Christian neighbours. Christians across denominational divides have carved out a niche for themselves, both through top-down policies (such as the Ottoman millet system), and through bottom-up activism. In some cases, this has challenged identity categorization, especially as part of the wider Arab nation. Questions of religious affiliation may be irrelevant in day-to-day contexts, but can be critical concerning relations with the state, for example, when citizenship rights are accorded along denominational lines. These historical and contemporary dynamics of social life have resulted in manifest differences between Middle Eastern Christians and Muslims, for instance in educational, economic, demographic, or migration patterns.

It can be argued that Middle Eastern Christians are in a unique position. They share the same language, heritage and culture as their Muslim neighbours, yet they are still perceived as different. This position of “sameness” and “difference” means that they are often regarded as the “bridge” between this (Muslim) Middle East and the so-called West. Despite this potentially crucial position, Christians in the Middle East have been curiously absent from Western and Middle Eastern scholarship and their relationship to their non-Christian neighbours is typically only discussed in projects of “interfaith dialogues”.

We invite researchers to explore in their contributions the contemporary and historical dimensions of the socio-cultural, political, ritual, and economic relations between Christians and Muslims (or other religious groups) in the so-called Middle-East. We hope to trace the dynamics and negotiations between individuals and groups representing the different religious communities at both leadership and grassroots’ levels and in all aspects of life. This will shed new light on how the creative space between “sameness” and “difference” is filled by Middle Eastern Muslims and Christians.

Potential topics

Questions that could be explored in this context are:


Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted by 1 September 2009 to or
We are working to a fairly tight schedule: Deadline for the submission of the full papers (8000-9000 words) will be 1 December 2009.

For further information please contact:
Dr Julia Droeber
School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy
University of Aberdeen
King’s College
AB24 3UB

Dr Fiona McCallum
School of International Relations
University of St Andrews
Arts Faculty Building
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AX

The Call for Papers can also be downloaded as a Word document.

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