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Islam and Christianity in Southeast Europe

Final Report Summary - ICSE (Islam and Christianity in Southeast Europe)

The Marie Curie Intra-European Felloship (MC IEF) project has been successfully completed by the PI / research fellow Dr Ina Merdjanova (Sofia) (RF). The seven elements of the work programme have been finalised and the outlined objectives have been achieved.

Element 1 (primary objective and task): Book research 'Rediscovering the Umma: Muslim Communities in the Balkans between Nationalism and Transnationalism'. RF successfully completed the book manuscript (290 pp.) ready for publication in September 2012. She had received a publishing contract by Oxford University Press in April 2012 after highly positive evaluation by the anonymous readers at the Press. Expected date of the book release: February 2013.

Element 2 (Career development and international research dissemination / participation activities): RF participated in the following international conferences and meetings related to her book project and to her broader project area 'Islam and Christianity in Southeast Europe':
(1) In October 2010, RF presented a paper 'Turks in Bulgaria: From Religions Community to Ethnic Minority' at the IRCICA Congress in Skopje, Macedonia, as well as a paper 'Postcommunist Wars in the Balkans and Religious Peacebuilding' at the AAR meeting in Atlanta, US.
(2) In November 2010, she presented her book 'Religion as a Conversation Starter: Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding' in the Balkans at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC, and at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, DC.
(3) On 17 February 2011, RF gave an expert seminar 'Islam and Politics in the Balkans' at Long Room Hub Humanities Centre, Trinity College Dublin.
(4) She also gave talks during the intensive programme in Istanbul in April - May 2011 on religion and politics in the Balkans, and on the teaching of religion in post-communist Balkan countries, and took part in a round-table on Islam in Europe.
(5) In June 2011, the RF gave a paper 'Religion and Peacebuilding in the Balkans: Towards a Gendered Perspective' at the symposium 'Women, Religion and Peacebuilding', organised by Joan Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at San Diego University, TX, in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. The paper will be published in 2013 in an edited volume.
(6) In early September 2011, RF participated in a meeting on Elisabeth Behr-Sigel Contribution to the Church in Strasbourg, where she shared her experience with translating Behr-Sigel book on Women in the Orthodox Church into Bulgarian, and discussed issues related to women's position and roles in Orthodox Christianity.
(7) In October 2011, RF presented a paper 'Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam, and Modernity: The Case of the Balkans' at the workshop 'Multiple Modernities and Tradition - (De)Constructing Religious Worlds', at the Central European University, Budapest, as well as a paper 'Administering Islam in Bulgaria: Legal and Political Aspects' at the International Symposium 'Common Governance: Culture and Restructuring Problems in Three Seas Basin Countries', Istanbul, Turkey (14 October).
(8) In November 2011, RF attended the AAR meeting in San Francisco, where she participated in the work meeting of the Religion in Europe Group (RF is a member of the steering committee of the group since September 2011) and met with the commissioning editor of Oxford University Press in order to discuss the potential publication of her manuscript.
(9) In March 2012, RF presented a paper 'Islam and Politics in the Balkans: Understanding a Decade of Change' at the workshop 'Translating Transformations: Hermeneutics of Change in the Balkans' at Manchester University, UK.
(10) In April 2012, RF presented a paper 'Post-Communist Transformations of Islam in the Balkans' at the 3rd International Conference on Islam 'Islam and Democracy,' University Wisconsin-Madison, USA (14 April).
(11) On 19 April she presented a paper 'Neither Bulgarians among Bulgarians nor Turks among Turks': The Contested Identities of Pomaks in Bulgaria' at the Association for the Study of Nationalities 17th Annual World Convention Columbia University, USA. RF was also a discussant at the Convention panel 'Exploring Contemporary Islamic Movements in the Balkans: A Common Reformist Islam?' on 20 April 2012.
(12) On 26 April 2012, RF presented a paper 'Modernity and Minorities in the Balkans: Identity Transformations among Turks in Bulgaria' at the Fifth International Balkans Forum, Istanbul.
(13) On 5 May 2012, RF presented a paper 'Managing Islam in the Age of Nationalism: Muslims in the Post-Ottoman Balkan States' at Approaches to Ethnic Conflict symposium, Sabanci University, Istanbul.
(14) On 15 May 2012, RF gave an expert seminar 'Muslim Women in the Balkans' for at Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin.
(15) In July 2012, RF gave a class 'Interreligious dialogue and peacebuilding' at the University of San Diego Summer School 'Religious Peacebuilding and Reconciliation', held at Queen Mary College - University of London (2 July) and a presentation 'Islam and Women in the Balkans' at the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh, Northern Ireland (24 July).

Element 3: Training in academic teaching and teaching courses
(1)During 2010-12, RF attended seven training courses for course module development and training in academic teaching at TCD's Centre for Academic Practice and eLearning (CAPSL).
(2) RF developed new modules which she taught during her fellowship: In Spring 2011, she taught a module on 'Muslims in the Balkans and the building of a European Islam' (10 ECTS); in Fall 2011, RF taught a graduate course 'Religion and peacebuilding in the Balkans' (10 ECTS) and supervised the course work of her students; in Spring 2012, RF taught her third graduate course 'Christianity and Islam in Southeast Europe: contact, conflict and cooperation' (10 ECTS) and supervised the coursework of her students.

Element 4: Training in development and delivery of European intensive programmes'
(1) Training and participation in the preparation, facilitation and delivery of second European intensive programmes 'Translating God(s): intercultural theology and interreligious studies'. The third IP was held in Constantia, Romania, in September 2012. RF collaborated to secure the commitment of the partner faculty at Constantia University to host and jointly organise the IR, provided a list of experts for this IP and facilitated their invitation and participation of those experts in the intensive programmes. Furthermore, she was actively involved in the elaboration of the thematic blocks and individual lectures for the IP, offering her regional expertise.
(2) RF gave a lecture 'Muslims in the Balkans and the Discourse on a 'European Islam' at the IP, participated in two round-tables, moderated discussions and participated in the implementation of parts of the intensive programme.
- For further information on intensive programmes in Constantia see: http://www.ecumenics.ie/resources/students/european-programmes/

Element 5: Training in directing M.Phil. / PhD research and supervision. Research seminar: RF prepared and conducted the monthly research seminars for PhD students (with another staff member of the host institution). PhD supervision: RF co-supervised (with Dr Norbert Hintersteiner) the PhD work of Kelly Pederson 'Islam and Liberal Citizenship' and Richard Kimball 'The Qur'anic People of the Book'. M.Phil. research supervision: RF directed, supervised and assessed two MPhil dissertations, assessed the course work of five MPhil students, served as examiner at one confirmation viva and chaired another confirmation viva.

Element 6: Member of advisory board of the research project 'Visioning 21st century ecumenics: diversity, dialogue and reconciliation' at the host institution RF took part in two day-long seminars related to the project: on 22 October 2012 and on 1 June 2012.

Element 7: Supervision with scientist in charge. RF met regularly with scientist in charge to discuss her progress on the elements of the work programme. She also took part in the academic staff meetings of the department throughout the 24-month fellowship period to share experience on her various career development elements and contribute to relevant items of the departments discussions.