Conference on Apostasy from Islam (5-6 April 2019)

by | Oct 25, 2018 | Calls for paper, Conferences | 0 comments

Dear colleagues,

I would like to invite abstract submissions for a two-day conference (5-6 April 2019) at the Institute of Modern Languages Research in London on (Ex-)Muslims and Public Apostasy from Islam in Francophone Cultures, Societies, and Politics. Our keynote speakers are Salim Bachi, a critically-acclaimed Algerian novelist, and Dr Daniel Enstedt (University of Gothenburg), one of the few scholars to have studied apostasy from Islam as a social phenomenon.

Visit the conference website or see below for the call for papers. Please circulate widely!

In recent years, the phenomenon of apostasy from Islam has become increasingly politicized, with right-wing politicians and polemicists, such as Geert Wilders, weaponizing ‘ex-Muslims’ and left-wing politicians and polemicists, such as Max Blumenthal, castigating ‘ex-Muslims’ as self-hating Islamophobes and ‘native informants.’ Indeed, in The Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam(2015), the only book-length sociological study of apostasy from Islam, Simon Cottee notes how the right portrays apostates ‘as brave dissidents who live in fear of violent reprisal from fanatical Muslims’, while, for the left, ‘the question of Islamic apostasy is seen at best as a diversion from more pressing issues, like the emancipation of Palestine […] [and at worst] derided as “Islamophobic”.’ The intense polarization around apostasy in Islam—and the consequently high political stakes involved in representing apostasy and apostates—is perhaps one reason why there is a dearth of scholarship, across disciplines, on the socio-political and cultural aspects of apostasy from Islam, especially from an on-the-ground, lived-experience perspective. Thus, while scholars have extensively examined the works and lives of numerous Francophone cultural figures of Muslim heritage—such as writers Salim Bachi, Boualem Sansal, and Rachid Boudjedra—from almost every angle possible, they have neglected to take into account these individuals’ public dis-identification and disaffiliation from—and/or disavowal of—Islam.

This conference seeks to address this lacuna by (re-)examining the works and lives of Muslim-heritage Francophone public figures—be they writers, actors, singers, filmmakers, politicians, or even individuals, such as Waleed Al-Husseini, whose rise to public prominence was in a way built on an act of public apostasy—in light of their public apostasy, within the broader polarized and politicized context surrounding ‘ex-Muslims’ and the phenomenon of apostasy from Islam. In addition, we welcome papers that focus on other aspects of apostasy from Islam, including, but not restricted to, the lived experiences of ‘ex-Muslims’, representations of apostasy from Islam in media and political discourse, and historical analyses of the concept of apostasy in, for example, nineteenth-century Algeria (such as in the context of the Code de l’indigénat).

We welcome contributions for 20-minute papers on aspects of apostasy from Islam including, but not restricted to:

  • Defining Islam in the French/Francophone public sphere.
  • Differing reactions to public apostasy around the world.
  • The lived experiences of ‘ex-Muslims’.
  • Colonial histories of assimilation and (public) apostasy.
  • Republicanism and apostasy.
  • The politics of recuperation of the apostate (on the left, on the right and in the “centre”).
  • The novelist, actor, singer or filmmaker as public figure or spokesperson.
  • Resisting ideological appropriation and reductive categorisation.
  • The poetics/aesthetics of apostasy.

Proposals of 200-300 words and a short bio should be sent to by the deadline of December 21, 2018.

All best wishes,


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *