Sharia workshop: “State, Class, and Sharia”

The workshop “State, Class, and Sharia” gathered a number sharia researchers affiliated to the Nordic Sharia Netwrok on October 29 at the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at University of Bergen. Presentations were offered by Dr. Ulrika Mårstenson, Susanne Olsson, Susanne Dahlgren, Karin Ask, Nora Eggen. Eirik Hovden, Knut Vikør and my self. In addition, local researchers i Bergen affiliated with the Network also participated in discussions.

Theology as Lived Religion

On October 26 – 27 2015 the fifth workshop of the Scandinavian Network for the Study of Lived Religion took place in Oslo. This time the network’s workshop was organised by Dr. Ingvild Flaskerud at the Faculty of Theology at University of Oslo. The workshop included presentations by Prof. Oddbjørn Leirvik, Dr. Ingvild Flaskerud, Dt. Marianne Holm Pedersen and Dr. Catharine Raudvere, and I offered a presentation of the preliminary findings of my project under the title “Marriage ‘Iranian Style’ in Bergen: Between Law, Theology and Everyday Life”. Additional, we also discussed the future activities and plans for the network.

Law and Religious un(freedom) in the Global Era

8706-politics-religionThe workshop gathered researchers from the US, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands to address the question: What assumptions about ‘religion’ are embedded in various forms of ‘secular’ law?

In my presentation I gave a glimpse into some of the preliminary findings of the interview inquiry, as well as the legal regulation of mahr in the Norwegian setting.

The workshop was jointly organised by UoB and CMI on June 18-19 2015. More information can be found here.


Is secularism bad for women?

This was the main question raised at the workshop “Women, religion and secularism” that took place on may 7-8 at The Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre (CRS). The workshop gathered prominent scholars in the field of religion and gender research such as Dr. Kristin Aune (Coventry), Dr. Mia Lӧvheim (Uppsala), and Dr. Theri Utriainen (Helsinki).

In addition to the Uppsala workshop, a total of two other workshops will be organised under the topic of “Women, religion and secularism” during 2015. These workshops, funded by the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, are led by Coventry, Uppsala, Helsinki universities and the Center of Social Studies (Coimbra).

Reflecting recent discussions in the field of study of religion and gender, the Uppsala workshop turned the question initially posed by Susan M. Okin in her 1997 essay on it’s head and asked: Is secularism bad for women?

In the opening remarks for the workshop, Kristin Aune commented on the development of the relationship between religion and gender. Whereas the 1970s feminist movement claimed that religion was bad for women, and the grand question of debate for the 1990s was if multiculturalism is bad for women, Aune claimed that the impact of secularism for women’s rights is an appropriate question for current political debates in Europe. Aune brought attention to the fact that although religion historically has not merely been beneficial for women’s rights and equality, neither has secularism. Drawing on the work of the historian Joan W. Scott, Aune pointed to examples of how secularism in the 20th century has been promoted and made way for masculine rationality, at the expense of women and religion in the private sphere.

Secularism should not, however, be understood as a singular phenomenon. It has served various political projects throughout history, and continues to hold several connotations. Still, a recurrent question for various models of political secularism is how to safeguard principles of gender equality without violating freedom of religion, and vice versa. Is there a political solution than can at the same time guarantee religious women’s rights and full social inclusion?

These questions founded the backdrop for the event hosted by CRS in Uppsala. In addition to the two keynotes Elina Vuola (Helsinki) and Pia Karlsson Minganti (Stockholm) the event included presentations by 15 speakers organised in four main panels.

I contributed with a presentation of my newly founded postdoctoral project in a panel together with Kim Lecoyer and Dr. Esther van Eijk. Lecoyer and van Eijk both gave presentations on the practice of Muslim family law issues in Belgium and the Netherlands respectively. In my talk, I offered a glimpse into some of the preliminary findings of the interviews I’ve conducted so far. Although the legal regulation of religious life-stage rituals in Belgium and the Netherlands are quite different to that of Norway, some broad parallels could be found between the three research projects dealing with the practice of Muslim family law issues in a European context.

More information about the workshop can be found at Women, Religion, Secularism.


Book launch


On Wednesday April 8, there will be a book launch for my new book entitled Family Law in Contemporary Iran: Women’s Rights Activism and Shari‘a.

Date: 8 April
Time: 14:00-15:30
Venue: Bergen Resource Centre, Jekteviksbakken 31
Link to the event:

The book may be purchased through the publisher’s website: I.B. Tauris.

Author Marianne Bøe (post doctor, AHKR, University of Bergen) will discuss the book in conversation with Liv Tønnessen (senior researcher, CMI).

The codification of Muslim family law is a divisive and ongoing issue of debate in several countries these days. In Iran, various forms of codification have been launched seeking to fulfil a dual purpose of implementing both shari‘a and women’s rights since the early 1900s. The most recent initiative came in 2007, when the Family Protection Bill was introduced. With this Bill, family law once again emerged as a contentious issue of public debate, to which women’s rights activists have offered significant contributions.

Taking up the issue of women’s rights in the modern context of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Bøe’s book offers a nuanced view of how women’s rights activists assert their rights within an Islamic context by weaving together religious and historical texts and narratives. Furthermore, it contributes to challenge both the traditional view of
“Islamic Feminism” as monolithic and clears a path to a new understanding of the role of women’s rights activists in shaping and synthesizing debates on the shari’a, women’s rights and family law.


Welcome to Religious Law and Everyday Life: Shifting practices of mahr (Islamic dower) in legal pluralistic Norway. This research project examines what kind of religious and legal developments are taking place in contemporary Norway. The project is located at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion – AHKR, University of Bergen.

This site is currently under construction. For more information, please contact the project leader at