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In and Out of South Asia: Transnational Community-Building in Religious and Ethnic Networks

PD Dr. Dietrich Reetz

The work package studies selected networks of Islamic groups and movements as forms of transnational community-building which operate out of South Asia and have entered Central Asia. The objective is to identify independent perspectives, activities and structures of religious actors in order to achieve a better understanding of the nature of their cross-regional networking. The study is based on previous research at ZMO linking South Asian Islamic networking to South East Asia, South Africa and Europe. The study wants to go beyond the current research on Muslim networking that focuses on their local roots and selective agendas. It also wants to overcome limitations in migration research that regards the transnational social space mainly as a geographically localised phenomenon. In contrast, this study aims at highlighting a new quality and quantity of Muslim networking emerging from cross-border and cross-culture activities in the name of Islam. The work package therefore aims at understanding the specific driving forces of such transnational networking for particular actors and institutions. For this purpose it plans to look into the organisational history, concepts, formats and motives of such transnational activism. As far as Central Asia is concerned, among the South Asian Islamic groups the Jama’at-i Islami, the Deobandis and Tablighis, but also groups such as the Barelwi Minhaj al-Quran, or the Salafi Ahl-i Hadith play a particularly active role.