University platform for research on Islam

Initiated by
the Federation
of European

Supported by
the International
of Catholic

Référence :

Annali di Scienze Religiose Volume 13, pp. 35-57,



The challenges of religious visibility in the liberal public space

Western modernity has engaged the religious question, over the past thirty years in processes that show an increased interaction between religiosity, visibility and urban public space. At a time when expressions, behaviours and forms of religiosity are a source of concern for politicians, jurists or security experts, the question of the visibility of Islām deserves to be debated.

This research aims to articulate the community dimension and the urban public space in the context of liberal societies. Public space leads to the question of community and vice-versa, as both of them are intimately linked. This perspective provides the opportunity to analyse the nature of religious manifestations, their expressions and their reception as ‘counter-discourses’. The liberal public space being the place of individualities, the community dimension, especially the religious one, therefore can be interpreted as a position, an action and a form of counter-power.

In connection with these questions, we will also be led to examine the issue of religiosity as being shaped by processes inherent to the constitution of public space in the liberal context. A space that enshrines the individual dimension of conformity while rejecting the communitarian reality.

Starting from this conceptual framework, how does the public space contribute to the emergence of forms of religiosity and “domestication of the sacred”? What does it mean to be visible today? Would visibility be a means of expressing a sense of belonging to a group or an instrument of self-construction, which could be exclusively personal?

La modernité occidentale a engagé la question religieuse, au cours des trente dernières années, dans des processus qui montrent une interaction accrue entre religiosité, visibilité et espace public urbain. A l’heure où les expressions, les comportements et les formes de religiosité sont une source de préoccupation pour les politiciens, les juristes ou les experts en sécurité, la question de la visibilité de l’Islām mérite d’être débattue.

Cette recherche vise à articuler la dimension communautaire et l’espace public urbain dans le contexte des sociétés libérales. L’espace public conduit à la question de la communauté et vice-versa, car les deux sont intimement liés. Cette perspective permet d’analyser la nature des manifestations religieuses, leurs expressions et leur réception en tant que ” contre-discours “. L’espace public libéral étant le lieu des individualités, la dimension communautaire, notamment religieuse, peut donc être interprétée comme une position, une action et une forme de contre-pouvoir.

En lien avec ces questions, nous serons également amenés à examiner la question de la religiosité comme étant façonnée par des processus inhérents à la constitution de l’espace public en contexte libéral. Un espace qui consacre la dimension individuelle de la conformité tout en rejetant la réalité communautaire.

A partir de ce cadre conceptuel, comment l’espace public contribue-t-il à l’émergence de formes de religiosité et de “domestication du sacré” ? Que signifie être visible aujourd’hui ? La visibilité serait-elle un moyen d’exprimer un sentiment d’appartenance à un groupe ou un instrument de construction de soi, qui pourrait être exclusivement personnel ?


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