A two-day workshop “Muslim integration in Europe and North America: New Directions in Comparative Research” was held in Paris November 26-27, 2015. The workshop, organized by Prof. Jeffrey Reitz in collaboration with Dr. Patrick Simon, of the Institut national d’études démographiques (INED) in Paris was held at the Maison Suger, a facility of the Fondation maison des sciences de l’homme (FMSH) in central Paris.
The workshop was an outgrowth of the Toronto-based project “Muslim Minorities in France, Quebec and Canada: Social, Economic and Political Integration” which has been funded by SSHRC and the European Commission. A brief description is provided as an article in our Global Migration Research Institute page.
Presentations from the France-Quebec-Canada study were given by Prof. Reitz and by Dr. Simon, and also by three graduate students working on the project. Two of these, Emily Laxer, and Marie-Pier Joly are from the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and a third, Alexandra Kassir, is from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, where Prof. Reitz was based during 2012-2014.
The workshop built on this work and extended the scope of analysis and comparison by including additional presentations from 13 leading scholars in the field from France, Canada including Quebec, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany.
Exciting new work by Christophe Bertossi and Claire de Galembert from France, Abdie Kazemipur and David Koussens from Canada, Mehdi Bozorgmehr from the USA, Tariq Modood, Lucinda Platt and Ayse Güveli from the United Kingdom, Matthias Koenig and Mark Helbling from Germany, and Marcell Lubbers and Floris Vermeulen from the Netherlands, provided a wide range of perspectives and points of comparison.
Discussants for each session also were noted Paris-based scholars in the field: Nacira Guénif, Mirna Safi, Shirin Shahrokni, Danièle Joly, Daniel Sabbagh, Riva Kastoryano, and Virginie Guiraudon. A special lecture was given by Prof. Michel Wieviorka, President of FMSH, former president of the International Sociological Association, and recognized authority on race and diversity issues in France. It is anticipated that the conference papers will be the basis for a book to be published soon. (The complete workshop program can be found here)
The workshop was possible because of support from several sources. In Paris, these include TEPSIS and CADIS, both at EHESS, and CADIS staff assisted greatly in its administration. TEPSIS ( Transformation de l’Etat politisation des sociétés institution du social) is an innovative inter-organizational project aimed at linking social change and public policy; CADIS (Center of sociological analysis and intervention) is a sociological teaching and research unit, founded by the distinguished sociologist Alain Touraine. Funds were also contributed by INED and by ARDIS (Alliance de recherche sur les discriminations). Canadian support came from Prof. Reitz’ SSHRC grant, and from the Harney Program here at the Munk School. As a special feature, the Canadian Embassy in Paris hosted a dinner for workshop participants at the Canadian Cultural Centre near Invalides; Mr. Marc Berthiaume, political advisor at the Embassy, attended the workshop and participated in discussions.
As it happened, the workshop followed by just two weeks the horrific and deadly terrorist attacks on various targets in the city. Various circumstances related to those attacks focused attention on the status of Muslims in France and other countries, and there was an intensified sense of the importance of research such as was presented at the workshop, and its use in addressing important public issues. This creates a greater sense of urgency to disseminate the research as widely as possible.