Past Program

Mar 22, 2012

Islam in the West: Alternative Visions


Islam is more often stereotyped than understood in much of the media. What impact can cultural initiatives make to counteract easy caricatures? Can such well-intentioned initiatives avoid simplistic or homogenized views of the highly diverse Islamic tradition in which religious divisions can also represent political fault-lines?

This kind of discussion used to be framed in terms of 'Islam and the West' but this implies a dichotomy which is increasingly recognised as false. Few scholars would dream of denying the immense contribution that Islamic thought and culture have made to the development of what we now call 'the West', and Islam is one of the major religions in many Western countries. Few travellers in predominantly Muslim countries can fail to notice the myriad ways in which such nations have been affected, for better or worse, by the spread of Western ideas and institutions over the past two centuries or more.

At this meeting, Muslims with different points of view will talk about the way their religion and culture are presented in the West, and engage in discussion with a largely non-Muslim audience about how Islam is perceived and understood. The starting point for this debate will be a private view of the British Museum's special exhibition, Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, followed by the discussion and reception at nearby Goodenough College. Fellows and their recommended guests are welcome to join directors and staff of the Salzburg Global Seminar for either or both of these activities.


17:30 - 18:30 Private view at the British Museum of Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam

18:45 - 19:30 Refreshments available at Goodenough College

19:30 - 21:00 Islam in the West: Alternative Visions panel and discussion



Interview with British Museum Director, Neil MacGregor, on "Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam"