Press release: Private pieties and their public impact

Nr. 218/2016 - 24.10.2016

Cultural Anthropologist at Göttingen University receives an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council

(pug) Cultural Anthropology Professor Roman Loimeier of the University of Göttingen has been awarded an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). The project led by Prof. Loimeier titled “Private Pieties: New Forms of Religiosity in Muslim Societies“ started receiving funding in October 2016. The total amount will be close to € 2.5 million and last for five years. The ERC has designed its Advanced Grants programme to support outstanding and experienced top-notch research leaders worldwide.

Over the past years, Islamist movements have evolved into one of the apparently single greatest threats to Western civilisation. “The consequence of this focus on the Islamist threat is that countervailing developments in the Islamic world from Senegal to Indonesia are hardly acknowledged these days,“ states Prof. Loimeier of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology. In fact, social and religious movements that dispute the interpretational sovereignty of Islamist groups within the public community are growing in many countries of North Africa and Western Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. These new social voices and movements notably insist that faith is a private matter. And it is exactly these social groups and Muslims who position themselves against the political and social exploitation of Islam that will be the subject of this Göttingen research project.

The research project will examine developments in six countries of North Africa and West Asia: Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon , Iran and Pakistan. Among other positives, its results will help answer the question as to whether the insistence on the private nature of faith is linked to a relevant loss of religion's influence in the public’s eye and thereby with a loss of influence on the part of the respective religious stakeholders – particularly the radical Islamist groups who have tried in the past decades to recruit Muslims for their political objectives.

Roman Loimeier, born in 1957, majored in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Freiburg and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. From 1985 to 2005, he worked as a research assistant, assistant and senior assistant for the chair of Islamic Studies at the University of Bayreuth and held teaching positions at the universities of Leipzig, Bamberg and Vienna. In 2006, he worked as a research fellow at the German research institute Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin; in 2008, as an assistant professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He has been Professor of Anthropology at the University of Göttingen since 2009.

Contact address:
Professor Roman Loimeier
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Faculty of Social Sciences
Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Theaterplatz 15, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
phone +49 (0)551 39-7655