Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The Russian Language of Islam

This project explores how Muslim authorities and writers use Russian to transmit Islamic contents, and whether this leads to a specific "Islamic sociolect" of the Russian language.

Duration
2014  -   2018
Contact
Jos Schaeken
Funding
NWO Free Competition NWO Free Competition

Situated between Islamic, Arabic, Turkic and Russian studies, this project explores the framework of a new multinational Islamic discourse in the Russian Federation. 
We argue that over the past twenty years the Russian language has become the major vehicle of Islam in Russia. This project explores how Muslim authorities and writers use Russian to transmit Islamic contents, and whether this leads to a specific "Islamic sociolect" of the Russian language. How does the diversity of Islam in Russia create distinctive manners of "translating" Islam into Russian? How does "Islamic Russian" interact with Russia‚Äôs traditional "Muslim" languages, esp. Tatar (which is spoken by millions of Russian citizens), and with Arabic as the classical language of Islamic literature? How does "Islamic Russian" adopt Russian modes of representation, in order to create acceptance for Islam in Russian society? 
We identify three major variants of Islamic Russian, namely "Russianism", "Academism", and "Arabism", which are used by different Islamic communities. These variants differ in their use of Arabic-Islamic loan words, in their translation of Arabic terms and conventions into Russian, and in their adoption of Marxist, ethno-nationalist, and Western/liberal discourse elements. Our three sub-projects study the linguistic and pragmatic characteristics of these variants, and especially their interrelations, with a wide range of material from European Russia and the North Caucasus. 
Do the three variants separate rivalling Islamic camps, or do they build bridges between them? 
Do we witness the emergence of a coherent "Islamic Russian sociolect" that is more than the sum of its variants?

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