- Framing Islam: Faith, Fascination, and Fear in Twenty-First-Century German Culture, special issue of Colloquia Germanica: Internationale Zeitschrift für Germanistik ed. by Heidi Denzel de Tirado and Faye Stewart
Framing Islam offers seven articles representing cutting-edge scholarship on a topic of ever increasing relevance: the multifaceted representations of Islam and Muslim identities in German literature, film, and popular culture. All contributors work in US higher education contexts, adding to and engaging with scholarship coming out of Germany and from scholars who identify as Muslims. Realities in Germany, where multiple generations of Muslims have backgrounds and histories in diverse geographies, do not prevent their representation as a homogeneous mass. In interdisciplinary and intersectional readings, scholars provide insights into how the diverse representations of Muslim identities and of Islam are constructed and connected to a real or imagined spectrum of reactions of fascination and fear. The editors' introduction provides a rich context for the subsequent discussions of individual works, genres, and authors. Acknowledging the sustained presence of Islam and its pivotal role in the German imagination since the eighteenth century, as well as the variety of Muslim identities and belongings in German culture, the introduction highlights [End Page 155] the impact of contemporary national political discourses that include Islamophobia, the racialization of faith, and stereotyped perceptions.
Close readings and critical analyses reveal deep and intricate cultural connections and powerful tensions. The first two articles draw on Enlightenment traditions. David Coury's "Ways of Belonging: Navid Kermani and the Muslim Turn in Contemporary German Literature" demonstrates how humanistic traditions in Kermani's oeuvre counter Islamophobia. Coury examines how Kermani, recognized as one of Germany's most prominent scholars of Islam, envisions Muslim ways of belonging in a post-secular and post-national Germany in children's books, fiction, and in his essayistic work. Priscilla Layne's "Between Play and Mimicry: The Limits of Humanism in Verrücktes Blut" investigates resistance to the racialization of Islam in a play by Nurkan Erpulat and Jens Hillje, where plays by Schiller and Molière serve as intertexts, debunking discourses deeming Islam incompatible with German values.
Similarly, in "Reframing Islam: The Decoupling of Ethnicity from Religion in Turkish-German Media," Berna Gueneli's case studies of Fatih Akin's films, episodes in the Tatort crime series, and Feridun Zaimoğlu and Günter Senkel's Schwarze Jungfrauen (Black virgins) emphasize that Islam needs to be decoupled from ties to a particular ethnicity. With "'Don't Panic, I'm Islamic': Voicing Resistance through Documentary," Olivia Landry turns to the genre of documentaries. She demonstrates the genre's potential as resistance narrative and integrates pop-culture strategies as evocative verbal gestures opposing racist Islamophobia. In "'Islam Light': Girly Muslim Power and Moderate Islamic Men in German Sitcoms," Heidi Denzel de Tirado's analysis of representations of teenage Muslim girls in German sitcoms reveals second-and third-generation "Islam Light" Turkish-German identifications and their connections to discourses of belonging around the contested concept of Leitkultur. Islam as a marketing brand is the topic of Lindsay Lawton's "Truth in Advertising: Representations of Faith and Belonging around 'Muslim' Women's Memoirs." Lawton reflects on the commodification of best-selling memoirs by women who describe nuanced varieties of engagements and experiences with Muslim faith. Although they can be seen as post-Muslim women, they are lumped together and marketed as Muslim women victims of religious violence, thus reiterating the trope of Islam as a threat. Faye Stewart's insightful analysis in "Filming Faith and Desire: Encoding and Decoding Identities in Angelina Maccarone's Fremde Haut" reveals the compounded and complex challenges the [End Page 156] Iranian gay Muslim woman protagonist faces in a homophobic and Islamophobic environment.
Close readings of significant scenes reveal Muslim identities coming into and out of focus as multifaceted and fluid, contributing to understanding queer Muslim pluralism and intersections of queer identities with Islamic faith.