Conference on Islam in Russia

Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 2:30pm to Friday, October 16, 2015 - 5:00pm

CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street

The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University is hosting a conference on October 15-16 in the Belfer Case Study Room (CGIS South S020). The conference will consist of four sessions. It is free and open to the public. Registration is not required, but is appreciated for planning purposes.

Islam in Russia takes many forms, from the Tatars’ moderate EuroIslam to traditional Sufism in the Caucasus to the radicalized Salafi ideas found among a minority of young Muslims throughout the country. These different Muslim identities interact with a state that has in recent years come to be increasingly dominated by ethnic Russian and Orthodox Christian identities. At the same time, the strengthening of the Russian state has led it to increase its influence on Muslim religious practices and the everyday lives of Russian Muslims.

The Crimean crisis of 2014 has again highlighted the significance of Islam in contemporary Russia. The Russian government tried to mobilize state-supported Muslim organizations to sway Crimean Tatars to its side. This strategy was consistent with Moscow’s long-standing practice of co-opting religious groups by appointing a state-sanctioned representative. Since the time of Catherine the Great, Islamic authorities were expected to promote interpretations of Islam that supported the state. Needless to say, attempting to co-op believers into supporting a particular religious interpretation runs the risk of alienating those who disagree with the official interpretation. The resulting power struggles have played an important role in shaping Muslim identity in Russia in the post-Soviet period.

This conference will focus on what it means to be a Muslim in Russia today and how these meanings are reflected in Russian political life. Conference participants will examine the variety of Muslim identities in modern Russia and also consider the evolving role of Muslims in Russian history.

Thursday, October 15

2:30–3:00 p.m.

Opening Remarks

Rawi Abdelal, Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management,Harvard Business School; Director, Davis Center

Thomas Simons Jr., U.S. Foreign Service Officer 1963–1998, Former U.S.Ambassador to Poland and Pakistan; Visiting Scholar, Davis Center

Dmitry Gorenburg, Senior Research Scientist, CNA Corporation; Center Associate, Davis Center

3:00–5:00 p.m.

Panel One: The Russian State and Islam

Ekaterina Braginskaya (University of Edinburgh)—"Between Accommodation and Representation: The Russia Council of Muftis and the Challenges of Muslim Collective Identity"

Victoria Koroteyeva (Columbia University)—"Hizb ut-Tahrir in Russian Courts: Radical Islamism as Ideology and as Crime"

Mykhaylo Yakubovych (Ostroh Academy)—"Welcoming the Return: Crimean Muslims in the Politics of the Islamic Institutions of Russia"

Chair: Alexandra Vacroux, Executive Director, Davis Center; Lecturer on Government, Harvard University

Friday, October 16

9:00–11:00 a.m.

Panel Two: Islam in the Northern Caucasus

Sufian Zhemukhov (George Washington University)—"Development of Nationalism and Islam in Russia's North Caucasus"

Emmanuel Karagiannis (King's College London)—"The Rise of Political Islam in Russia: A Social Movement Approach"

Elena Pokalova (National Defense University)—"Islamic Radicalization in Russia's North Caucasus"

Mark Kramer (Harvard University)—“The Use and Abuse of Islam in Chechnya under Ramzan Kadyrov”

Chair: Dmitry Gorenburg, Senior Research Scientist, CNA Corporation; Center Associate, Davis Center

11:00–11:30 a.m.

Coffee Break

11:30 a.m. –1:30 p.m.

Panel Three: Islam in Russian History

James Meyer (Montana State University)—“Islam and Russia: Themes and Variations”

Mara Kozelsky (University of South Alabama)—“The End of Toleration: Russian Islamic Policy and the Crimean War”

Erika Monahan (University of New Mexico)—“Coercion, Accommodation, Volokita: Seit Shabin and the Question of Muslim Integration in the Eighteenth-Century Russian Empire”

Mustafa Tuna (Duke University)—“Volga-Ural Muslims amid the Matrix of Local, Imperial and Transregional Influences"

Chair: Thomas Simons Jr., U.S. Foreign Service Officer 1963–1998, Former U.S. Ambassador to Poland and Pakistan; Visiting Scholar, Davis Center

1:30–3:00 p.m.


3:00–5:00 p.m.

Panel Four: The Role of Islam in Russian Society

Galina Yemelianova (University of Birmingham)—“Managing Islam in Contemporary Russia”

Sophie Roche (University of Heidelberg)—“Migrants from Central Asia in the Field of Islam in Russia”

Dilyara Suleymanova (University of Zurich)—“Islam as Moral Education: Contestations of the Secular in the Republic of Tatarstan”

Rozaliya Garipova (University of Pennsylvania)—“Modern Abystais: The Transformation of Female Religious Authority in the Soviet and Post-Soviet Space”

Chair: Pauline Jones Luong, Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

Closing Remarks

Register for the event here.

The conference is made possible by the generous support of Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

Please contact the Davis Center at 617-495-4037 or with any questions about this event.