Visiting lecture by Ralph Grillo

Professor Ralph Grillo (University of Sussex) is giving an interesting guest lecture ”Muslim Families Under Scrutiny” on Tuesday 24th May at 15-17 in the lecture hall of Unioninkatu 37, Helsinki.

Muslim Families Under Scrutiny: The UK’s Experience

Venue: Lecture Hall, Unioninkatu 37 (1st floor), Helsinki

Date: Tuesday 24th May 2016 at 3-5 pm (klo 15–17)

The contemporary world is confronted by numerous crises among which may be counted a “crisis of difference”. In the second half of the 20th century Western democracies experienced a growing diversity of  population in large part due to the influx and settlement of migrants and refugees from impoverished or war-torn countries. To a considerable and perhaps surprising extent receiving countries were generally accommodating of the cultural and religious difference that incomers often brought with them, adopting in various ways and to varying degrees some form of what came to be called “multiculturalism”. In the 21st century, however, that trend went into reverse. The boundary between acceptable and unacceptable which once shifted towards greater acceptance of difference,  has now shifted in the opposite direction, with increasing lack of sympathy with alterity, and a growing tendency to criminalise it, in the interest of “muscular liberalism”. Central in  this has been the perception of Islam as an “existential threat”, and in consequence Muslim families have come under increasing scrutiny as institutions wherein difference is reproduced (and extremism bred), but also wherein it can be challenged. Muslim families (and relations between men and women, adults and children) have thus become the object of frequent policy initiatives and much media comment, and on a daily basis preoccupy social service practitioners, teachers and others. The lecture explores this scenario from the point of view recent UK experience, focusing on issues relating to marriage and divorce, and reflecting on  the implications for British multiculturalism.

The lecture is organized by two projects of Academy of Finland: Generational negotiations, social control and gendered sexualities (Finnish Youth Research Society, 2012–2016) and Transnational Muslim marriages: wellbeing, law and gender (University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research, 2013–2017).

Ralph Grillo is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex where he was formerly Dean of the School of African and Asian Studies and founding director of the Research Centre for Culture, Development and the Environment. He has had a long-standing concern with transnational migration and ethnicity in Africa and Europe and since the mid-1990s he has focused on cultural diversity and its governance in France, Italy, and the UK. His most recent work Muslim Families, Politics and the Law: A Legal Industry in Multicultural Britain (Ashgate, 2015) discusses the ‘legal industry’ which has grown up around Islam. Ralph Grillo is also a member of the Advisory Board of the project Generational negotiations, social control and gendered sexualities (GENESO, Academy of Finland & Finnish Youth Research Network 2012–2016).

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