Masking the Race-Religion Constellation in Europe and the US

NOSTER Grand Course 2017

Course description:
The NOSTER Grand Course is a biannual intensive two-day course in which junior researchers gain in-depth knowledge on a specific theme that is relevant for both; theologians and religious studies scholars. This year’s theme will be ‘Masking the Race-Religion Constellation in Europe and the US’.

‘Masking the Race-Religion Constellation in Europe and the US’
The topics of race/racism/racialisation and religion/theology are all too often dealt with separately. On a scholarly level, critical studies on the ‘secular’ or religious studies/theology in general, do not engage with critical race/whiteness studies and vice versa. At the same time, public debates on religion (especially Islam and Muslims) are mostly not addressed in terms of (post)colonialism and the history of racialization. This separation is strange since historically colonial racial and religious hierarchies have been closely intertwined. During this course, we will explore these intersectional race-religion constellations: what is hidden and why? And how is this constellation between race and religion related to our own fields of study and our societal contribution as scholars? In addition, we wish to show the empowering and resistance potential of religion and theology (in its collaboration with different religious traditions) and as such we will outline how Black theology and Black churches in the USA have been dealing with this entanglement of whiteness and secularity/Christianity and thus how from its very beginning religion/Black Christian theology played a role in opposition against oppression and violence. This insight will be supplemented by a more European example of the resistance potential of religious traditions taken from the resources of Muslim feminism. From this our focus turns the academic resources to rethink our religious studies/theological canon as well as our responsibility as scholars to contribute to public debates in a critical way. The course will thus only explore new links between theology, religious studies, critical race studies, and decolonial studies, but also consider the ways in which our own academic backgrounds, experiences and affects play a role in the topics under discussion.

  • ‘Judeo-Christian Europe’s practice of Divide and Impera. Masking the race-religion constellation. (Anya Topolski) General introduction to the seminar, mapping the field of race-religion-critical whiteness studies and the race-religion constellation. What does it hide and why?
  • Black theology and resistance in the US (Lucas Johnson) How did/does religion/theology play a role in black resistance against oppression and violence. How is this concept of ‘religion/theology’ different from commonly held notions of religion/theology?
  • Intersectional critique and Muslimfeminism: Practices and discourses of resistance: which battles to fight, and discourses of resistance from intersectional theory and Islamic theology (Berna Toprak.)
  • Critical race theory and race/(de)coloniality in Academia (Nawal Mustafa & Matthea Westerduin) Introduction to some crucial insights from critical race theory and its importance at the university and in the classroom.
  • Positionality and dealing with everyday racism in Academia(Kolar Aparna & Femke Kaulinfreks). Workshop
  • Reflection How are the topics discussed so far related? How does all of this affect us as scholars/theologians and in our work at the university?

The course takes place on December 7&8th 2017. Participation on both days is mandatory. Participants are expected to prepare the readings and additional assignments

General aims:
To provide participants with conceptual and methodological tools that will enable them to comprehend and respond to debates on ‘race’, religion, and their possible relations. Tools and insights to engage with the ways in which our own experiences and affects play a role in the topics under discussion.


Wednesday December 6th
20.00-22.00     (Recommended) Radboud Reflects presents a Public Lecture by Lucas Johnson on ‘The wrong history of the US’.
How to deal with America’s racist history and its contemporary legacies, in light of recent events in Charlottesville and protests against white supremacy statues. Response: relationalities with European questions on racism and colonialist legacies

Thursday December 7th
09:30 – Coffee
09:45-10:00 – Welcome and introductions to the day
10:00-11.15 – Seminar with Anya Topolski

11:15-11.45 – Coffee break
11.45-13:00 – Seminar with Lucas Johnson

13:00-14:00 – Lunch break
14:00-15:15 – Seminar with Berna Toprak
15:15-15:45 – Coffee break
15:45-17:00 – Discussion

17.30- 20.00 – Dinner (optional)

Friday December 8th
09:30 – Coffee
09:45-10:00 – Introductions to the day
10:00-11.30 – Seminar with Nawal Mustafa & Matthea Westerduin

11:30-12:00 – Coffee break
12:00-13:30 – Femke Kaulingfreks & Kolar Aparna

13:30 -14.30 – Lunch break
14:30-16.30 – Reflection

15:15-15:45 – Coffee break
16.30-18:30 – Drinks

Course Coordination: Matthea Westerduin, Anya Topolski  
2 -5 EC (2 EC for 2 days participation, 40 hours preparation, 3 EC extra for paper writing afterwards)
Level: The course is open to students of accredited Research Master programmes and to PhD-students. In some cases, research-oriented students from other master programmes may be admitted. For further information, please contact the office (
Location: Nijmegen
Required reading: t.b.a.
Course-specific admission requirements: This course is open to all PhD- and Research Master students in the field of Theology and Religious Studies.
Language: All the assigned readings will be in English, as will be the lectures and discussions, unless all the participants should happen to be fluent in Dutch.
Costs: Participation is free for NOSTER members. For those who are no members of NOSTER the fee is € 50,- per EC. For more information about membership/costs per EC, see:
Registration: Those who are interested in following this course can apply until December 1st. Registration is required via the NOSTER website. When logged in to your personal account on the NOSTER website a register button will appear on the right. A certificate of attendance can be given to the participants after finishing the course. In case you are an external student your supervisor has to send NOSTER an email (, giving his or her consent with your participation.
Credits: 5 EC
Course-specific admission requirements: The course is open to PhD candidates and research master students in empirically oriented fields in theology and religious studies. If you are not a member of NOSTER but are interested in participating in the Grand Course, please contact

Literature and assignments:

The readings for the first session provide a framework and points for reference throughout the course as they theoretically reflect on the religion-race-theology constellation (Masuzawa, Maldonado-Torres, Topolski), race/coloniality (Grosfoguel, and the ‘secular’ (Mahmood). The readings for session II-IV consist of one/two key texts and links to video’s or essays dealing with specific topics. During the discussions and moments of reflection we will explore the relationalities between the separate sessions and the general readings and overall topic(s) of the course

Session I: Exploring relationalities between religion, race/coloniality, theology and the secular


The first assignment must be written before reading any literature:

  1. Define, or give possible definitions, of the two terms ‘religion’ and ‘secularism/the secular’ as they are (often) used in your studies. Do the same for the term ‘race’/racialization (Max 1,5 A4).

After reading Masuzawa and Mahmood (or Dhawan, Hirschkind or Asad):

  1. What, according to these authors do these two terms (religion/secularism/the secular) mean? (Max 1 A4).

After the two-day class:

  1. Write the third part of the assignment, in which you explore possible connections between secularism/the secular and religion on the one hand, and race/coloniality on the other (2 A4).
  • Masuzawa, Tomoko. The invention of world religions: Or, how European universalism was preserved in the language of pluralism. University of Chicago Press, 2005. Introduction 1-29.
  • Grosfoguel, Ramon, Laura Oso, and Anastasia Christou. “‘Racism’, intersectionality   and migration studies: framing some theoretical reflections.” Identities 22.6 (2015): 635-652.
  • Maldonado‐Torres, Nelson. “Race, religion, and ethics in the modern/colonial world.” Journal of Religious Ethics 42.4 (2014): 691-711.
  • Topolski, Anya, ‘The race-religion constellation A European Contribution to the Critical Philosophy of Race’, Critical philosophy of race 6 1 (2018) 59-81.
  • Mahmood, Saba. “Religious reason and secular affect: An incommensurable divide?.” Critical Inquiry 35.4 (2009): 836-862.
  • Dhawan, Nikita. “The empire prays back: Religion, secularity, and queer critique.” boundary 2 40.1 (2013): 191-222.

Additional readings (optional):

  • Asad, Talal. “Thinking about religion, belief, and politics.” The Cambridge companion to religious studies (2012): 36-57.
  • Hirschkind, Charles. “Religious difference and democratic pluralism: Some recent debates and frameworks.” Temenos-Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion 44.1 (2011).
  • Grosfoguel, Ramón. “The structure of knowledge in westernized universities: Epistemic racism/sexism and the four genocides/epistemicides of the long 16th century.” Human architecture 11.1 (2013): 73.
  • Carter, J. Kameron. Race: A theological account. OUP USA, 2008.
  • Jennings, Willie James. The Christian imagination: Theology and the origins of race. Yale University Press, 2010.
  • Stam, Robert, and Ella Shohat. Race in Translation: Culture Wars around the Postcolonial Atlantic. NYU Press, 2012.
  • Anidjar, Gil. Semites: Race, religion, literature. Stanford University Press, 2008.
  • Shohat, Ella, “The Sephardi-Moorish Atlantic: Between Orientalism andOccidentalism.” (eds.) Shohat & Alsultany, Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora (2013): 42-62.

Session II Lucas Johnson: Black theology and practices of resistance in the US

Session III Berna Toprak: Intersectional critique and Muslimfeminism: Practices and discourses of resistance


  • Wadud, Amina. Inside the gender Jihad: women’s reform in Islam. oneworld Publications, 2013. Chapter 1 ‘What’s in a Name’.
  • El-Tayeb, Fatima. European others: queering ethnicity in postnational Europe. U of Minnesota Press, 2011. Introduction and chapter 3 “Secular Submissions” (Watch at least 1 video)


Google “Linda Sarsour” and write 3 things that you notice

Additional readings (optional):

  • Al-Saji, Alia. “The racialization of Muslim veils: A philosophical analysis.” Philosophy & Social Criticism 36.8 (2010): 875-902.
  • Braidotti, Rosi. “In spite of the times: The postsecular turn in feminism.” Theory, culture & society 25.6 (2008): 1-24.

Session IV: Nawal Mustafa & Matthea Westerduin: Critical race theory and race/(de)coloniality in academia


  • Lentin, Alana, ‘Race’, in W. Outhwaite and S. Turner (eds.): Handbook of Political Sociology, forthcoming
  • Maldonado-Torres, Nelson. “Outline of ten theses on coloniality and decoloniality.” Franz Foundation (http://franzfanonfoundation) Accessed 27 (2017). Introduction, theses 6-10.
  • Stam, Robert, and Ella Shohat. Race in Translation: Culture Wars around the Postcolonial Atlantic. NYU Press, 2012, Section: “The Protocols Eurocentrism”: p. 95-103 from pdf version of the book.

Discussion on ‘Can non-Europeans think’:

Examples of decolonial knowledge, religion, affects, and esthetics

‘Poetic Pilgrimage’, Muneera Rashida and Sukina Abdul Noor, British Muslim hip-hop duo, Black Girl Twirl

Patricio Guzmán’s documentary, El Botón de Nacar (The Pearl Button) Pre/colonial history of Chile and its 20th century dictatorship from the perspective of the Ocean and its memory. Decolonial aesthetics and time/space/humanity relation?

Description: The ocean contains the history of all humanity. The sea holds all the voices of the earth and those that come from outer space. Water receives impetus from the stars and transmits it to living creatures. Water, the longest border in Chile, also holds the secret of two mysterious buttons which were found on its ocean floor. Chile, with its 2,670 miles of coastline and the largest archipelago in the world, presents a supernatural landscape. In it are volcanoes, mountains and glaciers. In it are the voices of the Patagonian Indigenous people, the first English sailors and also those of its political prisoners. Some say that water has memory. This film shows that it also has a voice.


Can you think of other examples that could be described as decolonial knowledge/affects/politics/emotions/religion?


During the second part of this session we will discuss how particular bodies of knowledge/experiences have been structurally excluded from academic knowledge.

Write in preparation for this session a short intellectual biography (1A4)) about the following questions: are there bodies of knowledge/experiences that you have been raised with that were structurally excluded from the places where you studied? How did this relation between institution and your own experience/knowledge/interest develop throughout your studies/research? In which ways are these in/exclusions related/unrelated to the topics under discussion of this course?

Additional readings (optional)

Essed, Philomena, and Isabel Hoving. “Innocence, smug ignorance, resentment: an Introduction to Dutch racism.” Dutch racism (2014): 9-30.

Session V: Kolar Aparna & Femke Kaulingfreks: Positionality and dealing with everyday racism in Academia

This session will consist of a collective reflective, interactive workshop about our own positionalities, building on what has already been discussed/read throughout the course. There are no additional readings for this session.

Activating the Archive

Call for papers
EYE International Conference 2018
Activating the Archive
Audio-Visual Collections and Civic Engagement, Political Dissent and Societal Change

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
26 to 29 May 2018

Hosted by EYE Filmmuseum

Deadline for submissions: 15 December 2017

The 2017-2018 academic year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Master’s in Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image (P&P), a programme of the University of Amsterdam in collaboration with EYE Filmmuseum, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the Living Media Arts foundation, and others. EYE teams up with the University of Amsterdam and Sound and Vision in organising a special edition of its annual International Conference, to celebrate this milestone.

The conference will serve as a platform for exchange on developments in the fields of audio-visual archiving and presentation. It will consider those developments among others – but not exclusively – from the perspective of those with a connection to the P&P programme. The conference will also be an occasion for P&P alumni to reconnect, and for students and staff of audio-visual archiving and curation programmes worldwide to get in touch and to reflect together on past and future endeavours.

The EYE International Conference 2018 will take place in Amsterdam, from Saturday 26 May to Tuesday 29 May 2018. Participants are also invited to two annual side events: the EYE Collection Day, on Saturday 26 May, and the Open House at the EYE Collection Centre, on Tuesday 29 May.

The conference will be devoted to the following topic:

Activating the Archive: Audio-Visual Collections and Civic Engagement, Political Dissent and Societal Change

We are pleased to announce the attendance of three keynote speakers:

  • Prof. dr Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam and Columbia University, NY)
  • Prof. dr Julia Noordegraaf (University of Amsterdam)
  • Prof. dr Faye Ginsburg (New York University)

In seeking conference submissions, the programme committee will be led by the following questions:

  • how can twenty-first century audio-visual collections be turned into truly communal resources, and be mobilised for the common good?
  • how can the training of (future) preservationists, curators and programmers contribute towards this goal?

Examples of possible topics are:

  • Agency and resistance in or through audio-visual archiving and the (re)use of archival collections
  • (Archival) moving images as a resource for citizen engagement and advocacy
  • Varieties of/models for archival activism
  • Cooperation and exchange between institutional archives and various groups of stakeholders and users (e.g. researchers, filmmakers, activists) and ways of fostering those
  • The growing significance of non-specialist (e.g. municipal) and informal archives and their specific ways of involving stakeholders
  • Varieties of/models for community archiving
  • Archives, museums and presentation platforms (e.g. festivals, video-sharing websites and online repositories) as facilitators of engagement

But also:

  • Discrimination, bias and inequality in archival and presentation practice, and ways of counteracting those
  • Threats to archival autonomy, and how to resist them
  • Conflicts of interest between archival stakeholders, and how to overcome them
  • The politics of open and linked data
  • The societal (e.g. environmental) implications of archival sustainability
  • DIY practice and (socio-economic/political) issues in archival labour
  • The legal (rights management) and ethical (privacy) implications of collecting and reusing audio-visual records of social movements and various forms of dissent

We will programme a combination of case studies (or best practice papers) and more critical (academic-style) contributions.
Please send proposals (max. 300 words) along with a short bio (max. 100 words) to, before 15 December.
Further practical information for attendees will follow in due course.

The conference programme committee:

Giovanna Fossati (EYE/UvA)
Anne Gant (EYE)
Eef Masson (UvA)
Patricia Pisters (UvA)
Gerdien Smit (EYE)
Erwin Verbruggen (Sound and Vision)

The School of Criticism and Theory

Cornell University
2018 Summer Session: June 17 – July 26

An international programme of study with leading figures in critical thought

The School of Criticism and Theory was founded in 1976 by a group of leading scholars and critical theorists in the conviction that an understanding of theory is fundamental to humanistic studies. Today, in an unparalleled summer campus experience, the SCT off ers professors and advanced graduate students of literature and related social sciences a chance to work with preeminent figures in critical thought—exploring the relationships among literature, history, art, anthropology and the law; examining the role of ideological and cultural movements; and reassessing theoretical approaches that have emerged over the last fi fty years. Cornell also off ers participants the resources of one of the great research libraries in the United States.

The Programme
In an intensive six-week course of study, faculty members and graduate students from around the world, in the humanities and social sciences, explore
recent developments in critical theory. Participants work with the SCT’s core faculty of distinguished scholars and theorists in one of four six-week seminars. Each faculty member off ers, in
addition, a public lecture and a colloquium (based on an original paper) which are attended by the entire group. The program also includes mini-seminars taught by scholars who visit for shorter periods. Finally, throughout the six weeks, distinguished theorists visit the SCT as lecturers.

More information

Urban Friction

The [urban interfaces] graduate seminar 2017-2018

Seminars: 8 November 2017, 31 January, 28 February, 9 May 2018 (15.00-17.00)
Workshop: two-day “pressure cooker” workshop: February 27-28
Venue: Parnassos, Kruisstraat 201, Utrecht.
Organization: Nanna Verhoeff, Michiel de Lange, Sigrid Merx, Hira Sheikh
Registration via:
Please be sure to specify your master programme, national research school and university

Urban Friction Flyer
Urban Friction Poster

Urban processes have been impacted by frictions all throughout history. The remarkable pace and dynamics of the current phase of global urbanization in the age of mediatization, datafication, and pervasive connectivity suggest a new age where insular, political boundaries have come to shift radically. Perhaps to a larger extent than before, people are identifying as global citizens. However, as a result of this spatial accumulation social, political and cultural frictions within our cities manifest themselves on a wide scale. In this year’s [urban interfaces] graduate seminar series we open up a forum to debate and inquire about contemporary frictions being experienced in urban cities, namely:

  • Civic Empowerment and “Right to the City”
  • Mobility and Migration
  • Urban Institutions and Smart Platforms

We intent to question these frictions from a critical, yet optimistic perspective. Frictions can be both obstructive and productive and, and we aim to disclose this paradox and approach frictions as a prospect to discuss their positive potential for urban culture and society. This seminar series proposes a framework to think about urban frictions, and about how urban media, art and performance as interventions in our cities’ public spaces can productively address these frictions. In each session, we will focus on the temporality and performativity of media, art and performance, and the ambitions of the design of “frictional” urban interfaces as a form of critical making.

The seminar is open for all. Research Master Students can earn 4 ECTS. The workload consists of:

  • Attending and preparing for the readings before each seminar
  • A final reflection, in one of the following formats: a short exploratory paper, a critical essay, an interview, a reading report or review of an event. Upon review, the reflection can be published on the [urban interfaces] online library.

Please contact the organizers (  | | for further details.

Furthering, Nurturing and Futuring Global Art Histories? (working title)

Call for Papers: Kunstlicht Vol. 39 (2018) no. 1

Deadline proposals: 26 November 2017
Issue release: Spring 2018

Guest editor: Jelle Bouwhuis

‘Art history’ as we know it in the west is traditionally closely linked to its institutions. In various essays, American art historian Donald Preziosi has stressed the inextricable relations between art history, museography, and the modern nation-state. Art history needed archives to depart from; the museum provided such archives, and both added luster to the collective imagination of the nation-state based on the fabrication of a national (Christian) cultural past.

In recent decades, it has slowly become clear that such an art history coincided with the selective appropriation, downplaying, negation and ‘othering’ of artistic cultures that do not fit in such a constellation. Those were situated as the subject of investigation in anthropology, ethnography, and their institutions, which were likewise indebted to colonialism and its accommodating, ‘epistemic violence’ (Gayatri Spivak). After decades of self-critical analysis, and of reflecting on its epistemological foundations, art history finally seems to have found its critical compeer in the form of Global Art History (James Elkins, Hans Belting) or World Art Studies (Kitty Zijlmans, Wilfried van Damme). But has it really?

Whether this critical self-reflection was incited by the impact of neoliberalism and its global financial sprawl or by post-colonialism and its criticism of Eurocentrism, essentialism, and cultural inequality, or both; it is also a response to the intensification and diversification of art institutions and initiatives worldwide. Such initiatives now encompass a bewildering variety compared to which the global propagation of biennials and triennials of the last decades already seems traditional. Following Preziosi’s argument, what is the relation between these institutions and practices, and the Global Art or World Art History?

And perhaps more importantly: do these new art histories really clear us from the Eurocentric bias on which art history is built? For whom is art history meant, by whom is it written? What is the implicatedness of art historians, including the historians of global art? What consequences does decentering have for the practice of doing art history? And if ‘the contemporary’ is already affected by mechanisms of exclusivity (Rolando Vazquez), how can we challenge such a contemporaneity?

Aware of its own limitations as an ‘academic journal’, despite its own legacy, and despite the particular blindnesses and biases resulting from the privileged subject positions occupied by both the editorial board and the guest editor for this issue, the question Kunstlicht wants to ask is: where to go with art history/ies, and how? Beyond the obvious shift in focus from western art towards the rest of the world, or the attempts at ‘diversifying’ presentations/artists etc., what are the methods and methodologies needed for ‘globalizing’ or ‘worlding’ art histories? How can we revive art history from traditional modes of knowledge production in favour of such art histories? Can we provide art history’s often pernicious, exclusivist tendencies with some ‘decolonial options’ (Walter Mignolo)? What are the ways in which we can ‘affirmatively sabotage’ (Nikita Khadan) art history? Are there ways in which art histories can emancipate themselves from their own epistemic violence?

Proposals (200-300 words) with attached résumés can be submitted until November 24, 2017 via Selected authors will be invited to write a 2,000-3,000-word paper (excluding notes). Papers may be written either in English or in Dutch. Authors who publish in Kunstlicht will receive three complementary copies. Unfortunately, Kunstlicht is not able to provide an author’s honorarium. Two years following publication, papers will be submitted to the freely accessible online archive.

We also welcome image-based and experimental text contributions, as well as proposals for performances and events, however without guaranteeing a stage.

Jelle Bouwhuis is a PhD researcher in modern art museums in the perspective of globalization at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He was previously curator at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and manager of Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam from 2006 until its closure in July 2016.

Kunstlicht is an academic journal for visual art, visual culture, and architecture, founded in 1980. It is affiliated with the Arts & Culture department of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, but operates from an independent foundation. Kunstlicht is published three times a year, and features both scholarly and artistic contributions.