Aesthetics or Ethnography? Notes on the Amsterdam Anthropology Lecture Series (AALS)

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Photography by Omar, one of Termeer’s respondents

By Matthias Teeuwen            When one thinks of a Muslim artist in the Netherlands one naturally thinks of someone who, with his or her art, tries to address issues of integration, tensions between Islam and secularism or the clash between Islamic and western society. Because that is what art by Muslims in the Netherlands is supposed to be about. Right?

In last week’s AALS lecture Dr. Bregje Termeer came to talk to us about her dissertation research on artistic strategies of young Muslim artists living in the Netherlands. What she discovered was that these artists did not subscribe to the definition of what art by Muslims is supposed to be. These artists were, as Termeer called it, ‘disengaging culturalism’.

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