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Mosques and Minarets: Conflict, Participation, and Visibility in German Cities
Petra Kuppinger, Monmouth College
ABSTRACT — The role and position of Muslims in Germany has been a controversial topic for years. This unresolved conflict manifests itself most acutely in controversies over the construction or renovation of mosques or mosque facilities. In this paper I examine two such controversies. I focus on themes of civic participation and visibility, to illustrate how mosque conflicts, regardless of their final outcomes, constitute important elements of Muslim localization. I argue that such conflicts are not isolated incidents but are embedded in larger processes of urban cultural and political negotiations and transformation. Mosque conflicts reflect the quest for visibility as expressed in the wish to construct a minaret. This quest is one step in a long journey toward recognition and participation, it symbolizes moments of arrival, and emphasizes local roots and commitment. I illustrate how mosque conflicts constitute crucial elements in the construction of future multi-ethnic and multi-religious cityscapes. Such controversies are both catalysts for further Muslim urban civic participation and results of lengthy processes of Muslim localization. Spatial presence becomes an expression of political presence, and the quest for participation, visibility, and citizenship. Opponents and municipalities’ struggles for control of the built environment in such conflicts represents attempts to order cities and societies at a historical moment when dynamics of globalization undermine the power of urban and national governments. [Keywords: Islam, Germany, mosque, minaret, cities, urban conflict]
Bungalows and Mansions: White Suburbs, Immigrant Aspirations,
and Aesthetic Governmentality
Denise Lawrence-Zúñiga, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
ABSTRACT — Contested discourses of suburban places have brought increasing attention to their historic “whiteness” as recent immigrants with distinct aesthetic sensibilities remodel houses and transform neighborhoods. This study examines opposition to largely Chinese immigrant renovations of early 20th century bungalows in Alhambra, California, by preservationist homeowners who favor restoring houses to their original conditions. Pressing for aesthetic governmentality in the form of municipal design reviews, the predominantly white, middle-class advocates seek to alter applicant perceptions of house design in favor of an idealized “traditional” image. Affluent Chinese immigrants, however, aspire to build modernized or mansion-sized houses to appeal to local and transnational homebuyers. Although design review effectively excludes the applicants’ aesthetic preferences, while subjecting them to tests of cultural competence, aesthetic governmentality fails to change perceptions and tastes. Rather, the resulting built forms suppress alternative expressions of home and reproduce the re-imagined white suburb. Design review serves hegemonic purposes in reproducing and naturalizing the local residential landscape aesthetic on principles promoted by professional historic preservation and design elites. The resulting preserved residential landscape creates its own aspirational legitimacy. [Keywords: Place, whiteness, Chinese immigrants, historic preservation, housing design review]