Panel: Popular Culture in a Muslim Context


Raum: Kath Theol V, Hochparterre, Johannisstraße 8-10
Tag Zeit    
Mo 16:00-16:30 Fuess ‘The War of First-Names.’ Music and Islam in France
Mo 16:30-17:00 Braune Parkour: Contesting Hegemonic Ways of Movement
Mo 17:00-17:30 Hecker Turkish Metal: Contesting Islamic Concepts of Morality
Mo 17:30-18:00 Altay Re-thinking Turkish Identity through Islamic Horror Movies


Pierre Hecker

Beschreibung des Panels:

The purpose of the present panel is to give new impulse to the academic discourse on the counter-hegemonic potential of popular culture in a Muslim context. It not only aims to explore how the global dissemination of popular cultures contributes to the emergence of new lifestyles and identity options among Muslim youths, but also to examine how popular culture is used to either promote or contest religious piety.


Interdisziplinär (Islamwissenschaft; Arabistik; Turkologie und Zentralasienkunde; Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft)


Altay, Üner: Re-thinking Turkish Identity through Islamic Horror Movies

Islamic horror movies represent a relatively new, but popular genre in Turkish cinema. Generally speaking, Islamic horror movies are based on the idea of using religious concepts of sin, hell, and Satan in order to evoke anxiety and fear in the audience. It is usually modern, secular, urban protagonists who are depicted as suffering from pyschological and physical distress inflicted upon them through the hands of evil—i.e. jinns and other supernatural beings mentioned in the Koran, who, due to a general lack of faith, are able to exercise power on their victims. ‘Over-dependence’ on technology, being sexually free or having an abortion are presented as examples of acting in a sinful way. In the larger picture, however, the main target of the genre is what could be described as ‘the scientific western mentality:’ scientists’ unsuccessful struggle against the supernatural is one of the major themes that run through most of the films. The emergence of Turkish Islamic horror cinema
coincides with the electoral success and governance of the Islamist Ak Parti. The genre has apparently become a cultural product of the era. Accordingly, Islamic horror movies could be considered as representing the hundred-year-old struggle between Turkish secularist and Islamist forces over who holds the upper hand in Turkish politics.

Braune, Ines: Parkour: Contesting Hegemonic Ways of Movement

Parkour can be seen as a youth movement in a very literal sense; the meaning of which is that young people are literally moving in the public sphere, contesting hegemonic ways of moving through the city. Social actions and cultural expressions such as parkour in the Arab World, have in the past largely escaped academic attention. Previous research has been mostly focusing on the ruling elites, and the seemingly unchangeable patriarchal structures of Arab societies. During the Arab Spring however, various forms of cultural expressions have become more visible: musicians, street artists, male and female demonstrators – all expressed their voices for change on the street.
With this paper, I would like to illustrate how parkour, seen as a cultural expression, can grasp social change in its varieties, shortcomings, and inconsistencies. Beginning in the nineteen eighties and nineties, parkour – known as the art of displacement (l’art du deplacement) – found its way via popular media representations from the suburbs of Paris to the world. The idea behind parkour is to find the most direct path between two points, and to overcome any obstacle within that path using only one’s own physical and mental capacities. Parkour suggests ways in which space is negotiated and appropriated in ways other than those intended by city planners and architects.
The topic is approached from an anthropological perspective in which the actors themselves are given the most importance. In order to explore the role of music as it relates to parkour, I refer to interviews which I conducted with parkour practitioners. These interviews are embedded in field research: online and in Morocco.

Fuess, Albrecht: ‘The War of First-Names.’ Music and Islam in France

In recent years, tendencies of Islamization are to be found in the music of Muslim migrants of the French suburbs (the banlieu). This development can be seen as a reaction towards the majority society who accuses the Muslims of not being willing to integrate into the French society and bases this lack of will on the religion of Islam as non adaptable to a laic system like France. The discussion within the French society about migration and Islam is mirrored in popular music of young French of migrant descent. The themes of the songs of the rebellious young of the eighties were racism and citizenship, but in the nineties due to the increasingly anti-Islamic and very successful rhetoric of the extreme right wing party of the Front National, political American-style banlieu hip-hop merged with elements of Algerian raï and incorporated increasingly allusions to Islam in an apologetic or rebellious provocative manner. The present contribution will demonstrate the stages of this development and show how the Islamization of banlieu music has led to the spread of Islamic themes into a variety of different musical genres. In its final analysis, the contribution will then talk about specific codes of this music scene and discuss if it is part of a global popular culture (or subculture) of resistance or a specific French counter culture of young Muslim migrants.

Hecker, Pierre: Turkish Metal: Contesting Islamic Concepts of Morality

“I got no problem with religion or religious people. My problem is they got a problem with me,” my counterpart with the long, blond dyed hair so aptly summed up. With his tattooed arms and the “pilot shades” on his head, he could be easily considered as the Turkish incarnation of American glam rock star Bret Michaels, who had just dropped by to have a couple of beers before hitting on the beautiful young women in the bar where we were doing the interview. In the eyes of the Turkish public, the appearance and behavior of Turkish rockers and metalheads—with their long hair, black clothes, tattoos, earrings and piercings, and their love for Turkish rakı and beer—are still often labelled as deviant and contradictory to prevalent concepts of morality and religion.
The presentation will look at Turkish heavy metal from a perspective of resistance and power, thereby addressing contemporary discourses on secularism and Islamism in Turkish society. Islamic actors, who, for a long time, have found themselves in a marginalized position resisting the laicist doctrines of the Kemalist state, are blaming Turkish rockers and metalheads for their supposedly loose morals and disrespect to Islamic traditions. Today, however, political Islam no longer represents an oppositional counterpublic, but with the electoral victory of the Muslim conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), has taken the dominant power position in state and society. In this context, the presentation will explore how particular cultural practices associated with heavy metal are contesting Islamic concepts of morality in Turkish society.