Contested Caricatures: Dynamics of Muslims claims-making during the Muhammad caricatures controversy
Title: Contested Caricatures: Dynamics of Muslims claims-making during the Muhammad caricatures controversy
Author: LINDEKILDE, Lasse E.
Citation: Florence, European University Institute, 2008
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences
The publication of the twelve Muhammad caricatures in a Danish newspaper in September 2005 led to the first large scale mobilisation and prolonged intervention in the public debate by Muslims in Denmark. This dissertation provides a description and analysis of the dynamics, characteristics and trajectory of Danish Muslims’ claims-making in response to the publication of the Muhammad caricatures. The thesis focuses on the determinants of Muslim claims-making during a well defined public controversy. As such, it aims to provide answers to the following questions: How were the grievances introduced by the Muhammad caricatures collectivized and turned into Muslim mobilisation? What role did the particular Danish context or Islamic ideas play in this process, and what kind of Islamic actors were active? Following a common assertion in much pub lic discourse about Islam stressing the incompatibility of Muslim claims- making and the political culture of secular democracies, the dissertation also investigates the extent to which the actual form and content of Muslim claims-making during the controversy challenged the principles of the secular public sphere The dissertation pays careful attention to the diversity of Muslim claims- making in the controversy and attempts to explain variance across types of Muslim actors, across time and between different arenas of claims-making. Departing from a theoretical integration of both social movement theory and elements of the sociology of religion, the dissertation argues that the nature of Muslim claims- making during the controversy was best described as de-essential, deexceptional and dynamic. Muslim mobilisation and claims-making was not predetermined, uniform and unidirectional, as has been suggested, but rather multivocal, multi-directional and multi-paced. Rather than leading to a unified protest, the publication of the Muhammad caricatures led to intense internal positioning among Muslim actors in Denmark. The claims-making by Danish Muslims seems to have been no more emotional, irrational or ideological than claims- making by other types of actors. In fact, the causal mechanisms driving Muslim mobilisation and claimsmaking in the controversy were similar to those driving other forms of contention. Thus, there seems to be little sui generis about Islam that made Danish Muslims react the way they did. Danish Muslims stressed partly different issues, solutions and interpretations of the principles of the secular public sphere than non-Muslim claimants did in the debate, but they did so using contentious performances and arguments that did not fundamentally challenge these basic principles. Finally, the claims- making of Danish Muslims during the controversy proved to be historically and spatially linked to prior instances of public smearing of Islam and the simultaneous actions by other claimants in the debate. Danish Muslims’ claimsmaking changed in form and content as the circumstances of the debate changed with, for example, the international escalation of the controversy.
LC Subject Heading: Muḥammad, Prophet, d. 632 -- Caricatures and cartoons; Caricatures and cartoons -- Political aspects -- Denmark
Defense date: 12/12/2008; Examining Board: Prof. Virginie Guiraudon (EUI/CNRS) Prof. Werner Schiffauer (Universität Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder) Prof. Adrian Favell (UCLA) Prof. Donatella della Porta (EUI – supervisor)
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