Aarhus University Seal

Maria Louw

1) Being together without a God: Neo Atheism in Kyrgyzstan 2) Being moved: Affect and ethics in meetings with refugees in Denmark

Being together without a God: Neo-Atheism in Kyrgyzstan

In Kyrgyzstan, atheism has gone from being state-imposed and having a very prominent presence in public space during Soviet times to being virtually invisible. The expression of atheist convictions has come to be seen as highly controversial: Religious life being closely bound up with family- and community events marking important moments in the life of a Muslim (circumcision, marriage and death, for example), declaring oneself an atheist is not merely seen as a personal rejection of religion, but more broadly as the rejection of community and the values and practices that are seen as underpinning it. The project will focus on the efforts of young atheists to live atheist lives and be true to their own atheist convictions, crafting atheist selves and communities of atheists IRL as well as on social media, while also attending to, and caring for, religious others and local communal life – and how these efforts makes moral community a pressing existential question for themselves and for those around them.

2.     Being moved: Affect and ethics in meetings with refugees in Denmark

This project explores communities that have recently developing around the reception of refugees in Denmark, focusing, in particular, on ‘Venligboerne’: a movement which started up as a local attempt to spread more ‘friendliness’ or ‘kindness’ in everyday life in general, but which grew into a country-wide movement in the wake of the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe. The project explores the experience of ‘being moved’: why and how so many were ‘moved’ in the wake of the refugee crisis; the affective spaces that are created in meetings with refugees, and the existential questions about community and ethics they raise.