From Hungary to Moscow and Makhachkala - and back: A Research trip to Russia

25.07.2018

At the end of 2017, Tibor Wilhelm Benedek, a Hungarian researcher who investigates Islam in Russia, won the Russian-European Research Papers Competition for Junior Social Scientists and received a travel grant from the Centre for German and European Studies to conduct a research trip to Moscow and Makhachkala. During the trip, Tibor had a chance to survey five hundreds of Muslims in Moscow and Makhachkala to test the results of his book ‘Pioneers of liberal Islam – Impressions from Moscow and St. Petersburg’ and to obtain new quantitative data for his research.

Tibor told us about his aspirations and results:

‘This field trip has become another stepping stone to the further study of Russian Islam. With my first book, I argued that official Islam in Russia is an integral part of Russian society. I worked with relevant scientific literature and interviewed religious studies scholars and sociologists. However, the feedback on this work in Europe was scarce. Life of Muslims in Russia appears to be an exotic and bold topic to large parts of the academia. New ideas and information consolidate gradually. To conduct research based on quantitative data collected through a survey is one of the ways to spike interest and attractiveness in a new topic in the academia.

I surveyed 250 Muslims in Moscow and 250 - in Makhachkala. The data collected during my trip will reveal attitudes, values, and opinions of these people. It has not been easy for me as a European researcher and a non-native speaker to survey 500 people on such a polarizing topic as religion. However, the past two weeks have shown that it is possible. I dedicate this project to young researchers who are tired of predefined topics in the academia. This research trip to Russia became an opportunity for me to learn more about cross-cultural communication and to gather data on the largest Muslim minority in Europe’.

Tibor’s work will soon appear in the CGES Working Papers series.

The Fifth Research Papers Competition for Junior Social Scientists is now calling for papers. More information is available here: http://www.zdes.spbu.ru/en/news1/fifth-research-papers-competition-for-junior-scientists-who-work-on-comparative-russian-european-studies2.

 

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