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Concepts of Religion and the Criticism of Religion: The Case of Arab Secularists and their Opponents in Egypt

The research project investigates the ways in which Arab intellectuals and religious scholars adopted European concepts of religion in order to reject external stereotypes and, at the same time, to articulate the need for religious, social, and political reform. The project further investigates how the adoption of European models was connected with resistance to colonialism/imperialism and how the authors sought to overcome a perceived inferiority and difference to Europe and to make a step forward to cultural emancipation. The project focuses on discussions in Egypt and compares two time periods. The first period roughly runs from the mid- 19th century to the mid-20th century, the second one from the late 1960s to the 1990s. The project thus attempts to show how articulations of cultural sovereignty changed under different circumstances.