Franziska Sandkühler

Contested Muslimness – Relations Between Religious Minority Organizations and their Trans-nationalization
Franziska Sandkühler
Franziska Sandkühler
Image: Susen Heyder

Personal information:

Franziska Sandkuehler

Bachstrasse 18k, 07743 Jena

Room 225

Telephone: +49 3641 9-43 208

learn moreExternal link

Research interests related to Diaspora:

  • Negotiation of group membership and construction of identities within religious minorities and diasporas
  • Transnational networking of diasporic communities and transnational transfer of knowledge
  • Community formations in the diaspora

Vorläufiger Arbeitstitel des Promotionsprojekts: Contested Muslimness – Verhältnisse religiöser Minderheiten-Organisationen und ihre Transnationalisierung


The research project aims to contribute to the study of religious diaspora organizations and Muslim communities in the post-socialist region of Central Eastern Europe. The focus is on Muslim organizations in Poland.

Research in the sociology of religion has already pointed to the integrative and civic potential of religious migrant organizations (Nagel, Plessentin 2015; Nagel 2016; Boos-Nünning 2015). Migrant organizations not only represent the interests of migrants or members of (religious) minorities important interest groups, but also provide members with opportunities to form network and support each other. 

In the past, Islam in Poland has been studied primarily with a focus on the communities of Polish Tatars. A dominant strand of research deals with identities of this autochthonous Muslim minority. Surveys show that religion, as well as nationality and ethnicity, constitute Tatar identities (Warmińska 1999, 2012; Cieslik, Verkuyten 2006; Nalborczyk 2017; Górak-Sosnowska, Łyszczarz 2018). However, while Tatar-Islamic practice in the context of (migration-related) pluralization of Islam in Poland has become increasingly controversial (Górak-Sosnowska, Łyszczarz 2013; Radłowska 2017), parts of the Tatar community seem to be increasingly connecting to other Tatar actors abroad and developing a transnational diasporic consciousness. 

The study of Polish Muslim organizations shows that there are structural isomorphisms between the organizations of Polish Tatars of newer Muslim organizations (Pędziwiatr 2011). However, the transnationalization of these actors is neglected. In the sociology of religion in general, the question of how negotiations of (religious) knowledge and religious authority at the local level and the transnationalization of religious diaspora organizations mutually condition each other remains insufficiently answered. What patterns of action can be identified among an already established religious minority when the orders of knowledge within the religious field change - when, for example, transnational knowledge is "added" to it through migration? What knowledge (and which other resources) do organizations draw upon to secure their legitimacy? Under what circumstances is new knowledge incorporated?

These questions will be answered in the PhD project with the help of qualitative interviews with members of both Tatar and non-Tatar Muslim organizations as well as analyses of their publications. These methods will be supplemented by a network perspective. In this way, it will be possible to trace which transnational networks actually exist and how their management is connected to local discourses.

Keywords: Transnationalization, Networks, Organizations, Islam, Eastern Europe

Duration: 10/2020 – 09/2024

Funding: Profillinie LIBERTY de