Barry McNamara  |   Published September 05, 2015

First book

Monmouth’s Kuppinger authors ‘Faithfully Urban: Pious Muslims in a German City’
  • Monmouth’s Kuppinger authors ‘Faithfully Urban: Pious Muslims in a German City’

A high school reunion of sorts 10 years ago led Monmouth College professor Petra Kuppinger into a new area of research and, ultimately, to the publication of her first book, “Faithfully Urban: Pious Muslims in a German City.”

Published in May by Berghahn Books, the 285-page book is available on Amazon. It grew out of a fascinating discussion Kuppinger had in 2005 with old friends from her German high school. While discussing the presence and roles of Muslims in Stuttgart, Kuppinger realized that some members of the urban community resented their presence, while others acknowledged they had become an integral part of life there. The controversial topic dovetailed nicely with her desire to “redesign her research” that she’d been conducting in Egypt and spend more time with her parents in Germany.

The anthropologist has done just that, as she’s conducted research for 2-1/2 years in Stuttgart – “Germany’s most diverse city,” she says – as well as maintaining an apartment there, where she’s spent every summer since 2006.

In addition to her teaching duties at Monmouth, Kuppinger serves as president of the Society of Urban National and Transnational Anthropology (SUNTA). Some of her recent publications include “Flexible Topographies: Muslim Spaces in a German Cityscape,” which appeared in Social and Cultural Geography, and “Crushed? Cairo’s Garbage Collectors and Neoliberal Urban Politics,” which was published in the Journal of Urban Affairs.

“They’ve been very regular people, included in the neighborhood and civic activities,” said Kuppinger of the Muslims in Stuttgart. “There’s a mosque there that is treated the same as churches when it comes to community involvement.”

Did Kuppinger successfully make her case that Muslims are integrating normally into Stuttgart’s culture? The book’s reviewers believe so.

“Through remarkably careful and rich ethnography, the author shows how Muslims are part and parcel of urban life in Stuttgart and how they transform the city and how they are transformed by the urban life there,” wrote one.

Added another, “The author successfully presents an approach that differs from most studies on Muslims in Germany or Western Europe and is certainly providing an important contribution to the study of Islam in Europe, in general, and to the urban Muslim presence, in particular.”

With that subject tackled, Kuppinger wants to move on to the next step – showing how Muslims are contributing creatively to society in Stuttgart.

“My next project – which might be a series of articles – will be about Islam, art, and creativity in the city,” she said. “Not only the art they create, but how they are actually shaping society by creating, for example, vibrant neighborhood spaces. They are creating new spaces in Stuttgart, like an old factory complex next to a mosque that is now a place for Muslim and non-Muslim artists and small media companies.”

Kuppinger joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2000 after earning her Ph.D. earlier that year from the New School for Social Research in New York City.

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