Presentation of the Innovative Training Network « Mediating Islam in the Digital Age » (ITN MIDA)
The Marie Curie ITN proposal ‘Mediating Islam in the Digital Age’ (MIDA) has been awarded.
An international consortium of research institutes, universities and non-academic partners in six European countries has been awarded with a research grant from the Department for Research and Innovation of the European Commission in June 2018.
MIDA is coordinated by the ‘Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique’ (CNRS) in Paris. Twelve beneficiaries and thirteen partner organisations are part of the consortium including two units of the CNRS, UMS 2000, ‘Institut d’études de l’Islam et des sociétés du monde musulman’ (IISMM, EHESS) and USR 3103, ‘L’information visuelle et textuelle en histoire de l’art: nouveaux terrains, corpus, outils’ (InVisu), as well as UMR 196, ‘Centre population et développement’ (CEPED, IRD). MIDA Scientific Coordinator is Pascal Buresi (CNRS-EHESS). The two other scientists in charge in France are Pénélope Larzillière (Ceped, IRD), and Mercedes Volait (InVisu, CNRS). Partner organisations include École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, and Centre Pompidou.
ITN programs are designed to combine scientific research with an intensive training trajectory for young scholars in order to equip them with the necessary comprehensive knowledge and skills. These researchers work in an inter-sectoral, interdisciplinary and international environment to deepen their knowledge and to find answers to pressing contemporary societal issues.
The MIDA-project rests on the premise that digitisation and technological innovations have a tremendous impact on Islam, the effects of which are diverse and ubiquitous. They include first and foremost modes of expression and communication of religious messages and traditions and modes of engagement with society. Digitisation and concurrent innovations as they emerged in the past decades belong to the list of comparable fundamental technological transformations in human history such as the invention of paper, printing technology, steam power, electricity and telecommunication, which constituted major upheavals, even if these were not experienced in all societies and by everyone at the same time, in the same way.
It is commonly recognised that the digital revolution will indeed deeply transform human societies, much as the industrial revolution did in the nineteenth century. However, the rapid changes that are currently taking place generate a sense of loss of control and instability among the general public, politicians, journalists, academics, and, not least, among Muslims themselves. The spread of modern digital media and new technologies of communication, production and dissemination, prompts researchers and social actors, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to make sense of, and understand these developments. Consequently, they have shaken up Islam as a field of academic study and have impacted on the ways Islam is to be studied in the future. The specificity of the current digital revolution calls for a re-evaluation of past situations and reflection on future prospects.
MIDA assesses these developments in all their dimensions by formulating three major questions: How does digitisation (1) shape Islam (i.e. beliefs, practices, societies, activism, political organisations, social institutions, and outlooks); (2) modify the relation Muslims have with their past; (3) modify and reorganise scholarship and research on Islam.
MIDA takes Islam as a broad field, not confined to theological dimensions as such. The study of Islam implies the study of mediating practices and concomitant social, political and cultural implications in past and present and consists of three interlocking dimensions. The first concerns texts, doctrines, material culture, and rituals as means to bridge the distance between the individual and the divine and to generate religious experience and reflection. The second dimension concerns the social, cultural, visual and institutional environments and settings in which mediation takes place, and the actors that are involved. The third dimension concerns social and political institutions and power relations in which mediation is embedded. An overall aim of the project is to understand how digitisation instigates renewed attention for the impact of similar processes in the past.
For further information, please contact
Pascal Buresi: pburesi [at] ehess.fr
Mercedes Volait: mercedes.volait [at] inha.fr
Pénélope Larzillière: penelope.larzilliere [at] ird.fr