Concepts of Culture in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Pierre Hecker, Igor Johannsen


Introducing the 7th issue of META, this editorial discusses prevalent concepts of culture in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. Different conceptualizations of culture that explicitly or implicitly contain qualitative differentiations between cultures are revisited and discussed. Bearing considerable weight in the respective disciplines, the “Islam vs. “the West” paradigm, the delineation of diverging cultures along ethnic lines, the equation of culture with art or religion, and the culture-as-civilization paradigm are being scrutinized. Serving as an example for the confusion and lack of clarity regarding the concept of “culture,” the book The Culture of Ambiguity by the German scholar of Islamic Studies Thomas Bauer is analyzed regarding its use of the term.


Islamic culture; Islamic civilization; Islam and the West; culture and religion; culture and art

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