Nov 07

‘Islam, Secularism and Security in Central Asia and Beyond’, Chatham House

On Thursday 13th and Friday 14th November, John Heathershaw, David Lewis, Gregorio Bettiza and Edward Lemon from the Department of Politics, and Rob Gleave from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, will be participating in a workshop at Chatham House entitled ‘Islam, Secularism and Security in Central Asia and Beyond’.

The workshop is the first of two, the second of which is to be held in April 2015 in Washington DC, and is funded by a grant awarded to John Heathershaw through the British Council’s Bridging Voices programme. The first day will be a closed session, attended by scholars, government officials and practitioners from both sides of the Atlantic; the meeting on the second day will be open to the wider public and will be used to launch John Heathershaw’s Chatham House research paper, co-authored with David W. Montgomery from the University of Pittsburgh, USA. The paper will be freely available to download from the Chatham House website following the launch. More information about the event can be found here.

Islam, secularism and international security

Bridging Voices 2014/15: Workshop One
Royal Institute of International Affairs, London
13-14 November 2014

About the ‘Bridging Voices’ workshops

The purpose of the dialogue is to undertake a debate about relationship between Islam and secularism with respect to security relations in Muslim-majority regions. In particular, drawing from colleagues at the University of Exeter, Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), CEDAR and colleagues from government, civil society and other academic institutions, we will consider a variety of contexts including those of Central Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia. Our countries of study include Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia.

The format of the dialogues is structured to optimize collaboration and discussion. The workshop includes country- and theme-specific discussions in a workshop which will operate under a modified Chatham House rule and will be followed by a public event open to a much wider audience.

Workshop 1 topics

In London we will address two primary sets of questions:

  1. How do governments in Muslim-majority secular states draw the line between ‘radical’ and ‘moderate’ Islam in both policy discourse and state practice? What are the historical, geographical and ethical contexts of secular security policy with respect to political Islam?
  2. How do foreign states and international actors respond to these discourses and practices? Do they challenge or affirm them? How do they address the relationship between radical Islam and more secular iterations of Islam?

Presenters should present their research for about 15 minutes on their particular case or topic in relation to those questions. Rather than standard academic paper presentations, speakers must come prepared to present to a learned and engaged but non-specialist audience.

We have not asked for papers being written especially for the workshop but a package of papers written by participants in the dialogue will be disseminated in advance. This serves as background reading rather than papers to be discussed. The content of the oral presentations will be the primary basis upon which discussion in each session will take place. Discussants will respond in around 10 minutes to the oral presentations but may also refer to the background reading material.

During the workshop an audio-recording will be taken of conversations. This will be typed up in an anonymised form. It may be used subsequently as a dialogical source for a possible academic book or paper addressing the workshop’s key themes. We may seek permission to attribute quotes at a later date but will only so with such expressed permission from individuals.

Following the workshop, presenters and discussants will be invited to compose short pieces of writing in the form of op-eds, commentaries, or short substantive articles related to the theme and in light of the discussions of the workshop. These will be published in traditional and new media sites and promoted widely by the organising institutions.


Day One: Thursday 13 November

From 9am. Arrive & COFFEE

9.30am. Welcome and introductions

  • Annette Bohr, Russian Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
  • David Montgomery, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh / CEDAR
  • John Heathershaw, Department of Politics, University of Exeter

10am. Panel 1: Islamic secularism and security in Central Asia

  • Chair:
    • Alan Parfitt, Eastern Research Group, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Presenters:
    • Adeeb Khalid, Department of History, Carleton College, USA
    • Edward Lemon, Department of Politics, University of Exeter
  • Discussant:
    • David Abramson, US Department of State

11.30am. COFFEE

12 noon. Panel 2: Islamic secularism and security in Turkey & Egypt

  • Chair:
    • Neil Melvin, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
  • Presenters:
    • Esra Ozyurek, European Institute, LSE
    • Hazem Kandil, St Catherine’s College, University of Cambridge
  • Discussant:
    • Rob Gleave, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

1.30pm. LUNCH.

2.30pm. Panel 3: Islamic secularism and security in Pakistan & Indonesia

  • Chair:
    • Craig Oliphant, Saferworld
  • Presenters:
    • Humeira Iqtidar, Department of Political Economy, Kings College London
    • Kirsten Schulze, Department of International History, LSE
  • Discussant:
    • David Martin, British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences

4pm. COFFEE.

4.30pm. Panel 4: Secularism and international security

  • Chair:
    • Annette Bohr, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
  • Presenters:
    • Stacey Gutkowski, Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, Kings College London
    • Fabio Petito, Department of International Relations, University of Sussex (tbc)
    • Gregorio Bettiza, Department of Politics, University of Exeter
  • Discussant:
    • Adam Seligman, Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion (CEDAR)

6pm. CLOSE.

6.30pm. DINNER, Davy’s at St James




Day Two: Friday 14 November

9am. Arrival & COFFEE

9.15am. Roundtable on The Myth of Post-Soviet Muslim Radicalization in the Central Asian Republics

  • Chair:
    • Annette Bohr, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
  • Speakers:
    • John Heathershaw, Department of Politics, University of Exeter
    • David Montgomery, Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion (CEDAR)
  • With responses from:
    • David Lewis, Department of Politics, University of Exeter
    • Carool Kersten, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Kings College London
    • Esra Ozyurek, European Institute, LSE

11am. Close and COFFEE.