Articles

 

I write with a focus on culture, identity, history, religion, and social phenomena. Find below a selection of my articles.

Cosmopolitanism in Dubai

Dubai: world’s least cosmopolitan city

Dubai is possibly the most international place in the world, with less than 10% of its inhabitants holding the local passport. But calling Dubai ‘cosmopolitan’ would be a mistake, based on a wrong understanding of the term and of reality of life in the Arab Gulf. In fact, Dubai is maybe the least cosmopolitan city there is.

A result of convivencia: the lion of Spain’s coat of arms appears as part of Islamic-style wall decoration in the royal palace in Seville.

Andalusia’s ambivalence: between convivencia and Islamophobia

The seven centuries of Islamic rule over the southern Spanish province of Andalusia are often romanticized for its convivencia: the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Today, the region exploits this history for tourism, but is not devoid of Islamophobia.

I wrote this article for the Center for Intercultural Dialogue.

Identity and nationality in the Gulf states

Identity and nationality in the Gulf

Few countries in the world have more foreigners than locals living within their borders. It is the case in the Arab Gulf states, where the majority of the population consists of immigrants: up to more than 85% in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. For the locals, this poses unique challenges to their concepts of identity and nationality.

IS

Islamic State: media and identity

The so-called Islamic State might have been defeated, but ideas do not die so easily. In this essay I deconstruct its ideology and self-identification and show that it is different from the way ‘the West’ has categorized it.

Golden-Temple

Amritsar: conflict and harmony

The city of Amritsar in north-western India is not big, but attracts more visitors than the Taj Mahal. The two main attractions are symbols of harmony and conflict, respectively: the Sikh religion’s holiest temple complex where everyone is welcome, and the nearby border with Pakistan where on a daily basis people on both sides assemble to celebrate the gates closing.

I wrote this article for the Center for Intercultural Dialogue.

India

On India, poverty and religion

Different religions deal with poverty differently, and in India you find a lot of both. At one point or another, the visitor of the subcontinent will inevitably be faced with more misery than one can bear and the challenging question how to approach it. What answers do religions provide?

Silence

Movie: Silence by Martin Scorsese

It is a mystery to me why Martin Scorsese’s 2016 movie Silence, about Christian missionaries in Japan, premiered…

Field-notes

Field notes

What happens when academics go on a ‘field trip’? “Describing any impressions of such a brief moment is per definition more about our own experience than it can be an accurate account of the reality we were asked to report about. ‘Field notes’ as a description of what it is like to experience an unfamiliar environment for someone living in a university. A depiction of a glimpse of someone else’s everyday. In the name of knowledge.”

Argentina

In search of Buenos Aires

“My contemplations streamed into a gaping expectation of novelty that was not filled by Buenos Aires. As a European, I had covered inhumane distances to get here and yet it seemed I had only traveled in terms of time – some 24 hours – and not in space. It was not a New World; it was a copy of the old one.”

Tenochtitlan

Still(ed) waters: a very short history of Mexico City

How a lake turned into one of the largest cities in the world: this is the story of Mexico City.

Before the Spanish conquest, Mexico City was a kind of Venice in the middle of a couple of connected lakes, surrounded by volcanoes. It was called Tenochtitlan: ’the place of many tunas’ (notwithstanding the watery environment, a tuna here being the fruit of a cactus).

Light of the Harem

The paradox of rape culture

Sexual violence is a problem many women around the world encounter in their lives: one in three have…

Cleopatra on the Terraces of Philae

Antithesis

Amid the chaos of the city that she was calling her home for a little while now, there…

Cairo

The commuter

It was overwhelmingly hot and the metro was packed as usual. The agonizing heat and lack of space…

If-only-the-world-made-sense

If only the world made sense

If only the world made sense. It’s a jumble of arbitrary events, a mess of moments, admittedly related, but few…

Birds-without-wings

The stories of Eskibahçe

This is an extra chapter for the book Birds without wings by Louis de Bernières. It provides a…