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Navid Kermani


Helga Druxes, Karolin Machtans and Alexandar Mihailovic

Navid Kermani – author, journalist and academic – is one of the most prominent public intellectuals in Germany today. Kermani has been at the forefront of recent debates about Islam and its role in Germany’s political, social and cultural life. Instead of emphasizing the differences between ethnic affiliations and religious beliefs, Kermani questions the Western notion of a clear dividing line between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, highlighting instead their affinities. In addition to his political essays, Kermani’s travel journalism introduces western audiences to diverse Muslim societies in the world and his fiction provides accessible meditations on first love, contemporary music, death and friendship. This is the first volume of criticism in English dedicated to Kermani’s varied work. The book features an extensive interview with the author, a reproduction in German and English of Kermani’s famous 2014 Bundestag speech and a collection of critical essays on Kermani’s writing. The essays, by major scholars in the field, cover issues such as gender, religion, cosmopolitanism, mystical experiences, and the power of the liberal arts in a time of neoliberal distraction.
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David N. Coury - Kafka and the Quran: Patriotism, Culture, and Post-national Identity


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Kafka and the Quran: Patriotism, Culture, and Post-national Identity

‘Wer ist wir?’ [Who is we?] This question, the title of Navid Kermani’s 2009 essay collection on Germany and its Muslims, considers the contested notion of identity in twenty-first-century Germany.1 Few issues have been as controversial in Europe over the past decade as the question of cultural identity in a globalized, post-national Europe. From the expansion of the European Union to increased immigration and what groups on the right increasingly perceive as the ‘Islamization’ of Europe, the question ‘Who is we?’2 gets to the heart of the debates over the integration and commensurability of cultures. Kermani’s essays seek not only to break down the dichotomy between ‘us’ and ‘them’, but also to argue for a cosmopolitanism rooted in a shared cultural and literary heritage between the Eastern and Western traditions. This chapter will explore Kermani’s writings on the commensurability of Islam and the West and in particular focus on his literary influences and how his conception of a common cultural identity inevitably informs his understanding of inclusive belonging in contemporary Germany and Europe. ← 49 | 50 →

On the occasion of the award of the Heinrich von Kleist prize to Kermani in 2012, then-Bundestag president Norbert Lammert proclaimed in his eulogy that Kermani is ‘an avowed Muslim as well as an avowed fan of [the soccer club] 1. FC Cologne; both may polarize people from time to time, and...

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