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Dr. O.G.A. (Oskar) Verkaaik

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exploring Diversity
Photographer: onbekend

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
  • Room number: B5.00
Postal address
  • Postbus 15509
    1001 NA Amsterdam
  • Profile

    CV & Publications

    Religious Architecture: Contemporary Mosque Design in the West

    I am currently developing a research program on religious architecture, in particular new purpose-built mosques in Europe . Although the building of new mosques often stirs political and social controversy in Europe - see the ban on minarets in Switzerland -, these debates are not my prime concern. I am more interested in the design of new mosques built by a set of actors - commissioning mosque committees, architects, government officials - for most of whom a new mosque project creates a process of reflection on the place and role of Muslims in a Western society. I compare these processes historically with earlier examples of religious architecture revival and the emancipation of religious minorities, such as the building of synagogues in Germany or Catholic churchesin the Netherlands . Besides, since I believe that European Islam does not only have roots in Islamic history but is also increasingly influenced by contemporary European religiosity, I compare new mosques with other examples of contemporary religious architecture. Going beyond a perspective on religious buildings as representing already existing identities and perceptions of the divine, I am interested in how the building, including the process of fund raising, planning and design, shape or alter these identities and perceptions. The project includes case studies in the Netherlands , Spain , and Germany , and will in the future also contain case studies in Turkey and North America .

    Rituals of Secularist Nationalism: The Naturalization Ceremony in the Netherlands

    In 2006, the Dutch government introduced a naturalization ceremony for foreigners wishing to become Dutchcitizens. Local bureaucrats who organize the ceremony initially disapproved of the measure as symbolic of the neonationalist approach to migration. I analyze how their criticism is undermined in the process of designing the ritual, the form of which continues to express a culturalist message of citizenship, despite organizers'explicit criticism or ridicule.Using the concept of "cultural intimacy," I showhow nationalism builds on a shared embarrassment among local bureaucrats, from which the new citizens are excluded by way of the ceremony. Publications about this project include an article in American Ethnologist ( ) and a book in Dutch entitled Ritueel Burgerschap: Een Essay over Nationalisme en Secularisme in Nederland .

    Urban informal politics

    Cities are charismatic entities. Both in and of themselves by virtue of their history and their mythologies, but also as sites where charismatic figures emerge on the basis of their capacity to interpret, manage and master the opacity of the city. The specificity of the urban can neither be understood through the city's functions nor the dynamics of its social networks. The urban is also a way of being in the world and must be understood as a dense and complex cultural repertoire of imagination, fear and desire. In an edited volume in Critique of Anthropology ( ) Thomas Blom Hansen and I propose to understand the urban and its charismatic potential through three registers: the sensory regimes of the city; the specific forms of urban knowledge and intelligibility; and the specific forms of power, connectivity and possibility which we call urban infra-power.

    Border Politics in the Afghan-Pakistani Region: The 'Tribal Areas'

    As part of the research program on 'illegal but licit' border practices in Asia, funded by   the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), I co-operate with colleagues from the Peshawar University in a research project about cultural politics in the so-called 'Tribal Areas'. We critically explore the notion of 'tribal culture' that legitimizes the stateof exception in the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands, which effectively excludes its population from the Pakistani state of law. We analyze the relative success of militant Islamic organizations within the area as partly a response to this exclusion.

    Migrant cultural politics: The Muhajir Qaumi Movement in Pakistan

    I have a long-standing research interest in ethnic and religious politics in the south of Pakistan , especially the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad , both of which have a majority population of Muhajirs, or former migrants from India . I analyze how a political migrant identity has been created on the basis of Islamic traditions of travel, (in)-justice, and an attachment to the land. This work also includes an interest in the interrelatedness of various forms and styles of violence, such as state violence, youthful vandalism, Islamic martyrdom, and modern terrorism. See, among other publications, my monograph on migrant identity in Hyderabad ( ), which was mentioned as Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004.

  • Publications




    • Verkaaik, O. (2017). 'Our Rule': The MQM, the Dawat-i Islami, and Mohajir Religiosity. In N. Khan (Ed.), Cityscapes of Violence in Karachi: Publics and Counterpublics (pp. 121-134). Oxford University Press. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2017). Sharia4Belgium en de verburgerlijking van de provocatie [Bespreking van: Aarns & Roex (2017) 'Als ik iemand beledigd heb, dan was dat mijn bedoeling’: Sharia4Belgiums ideologie en humorgebruik]. Justitiële Verkenningen, 43(3), 85-95. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O., & Tamimi Arab, P. (2017). Managing Mosques in the Netherlands: Constitutional versus Culturalist Secularism. In J. Mapril, R. Blanes, E. Giumbelli, & E. K. Wilson (Eds.), Secularisms in a Post-Secular Age?: Religiosities and Subjectivities in Comparative Perspective (pp. 169-186). Palgrave Macmillan. [details]




    • Verkaaik, O. (2014). The art of imperfection: contemporary synagogues in Germany and the Netherlands. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 20(3), 486-504. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2014). Your friendly gasoline station: on habitual space. In M. Schuilenburg, R. van Steden, & B. Oude Breuil (Eds.), Positive criminology: reflections on care, belonging and security (pp. 103-115). The Hague: Eleven international publishing. [details]



    • Verkaaik, O. (2012). Designing the 'anti-mosque': identity, religion and affect in contemporary European mosque design. Social Anthropology, 20(2), 161-176. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2012). On human builders, human dwellers and their buildings. Etnofoor, 23(2), 115-121. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O., Sarfraz Khan, S., & Rehman, S. (2012). Contesting the state of exception in Afghan-Pakistani marchlands. In B. Kalir, & M. Sur (Eds.), Transnational flows and permissive polities: ethnographies of human mobilities in Asia (pp. 55-74). (IIAS publications series; No. 7). Amsterdam University Press. [details]


    • Jaffri, Y., & Verkaaik, O. (2011). Sacrifice and dystopia: imagining Karachi through Edhi. In J. S. Anjaria, & C. McFarlane (Eds.), Urban navigations: politics, space, and the city (pp. 319-337). (Cities and the urban imperative). New Delhi: Routledge. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2011). De identiteitscricis: een typisch modern verschijnsel? In P. Schnabel, R. Abma, B. Klandermans, B. Meyer, C. Teulings, J. Thomassen, T. Roes, P. Giesen, & M. van Calmthout (Eds.), Wat iedereen moet weten van de menswetenschappen: de gammacanon (pp. 94-97). Meulenhoff. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O., & Spronk, R. (2011). Sexular practice: notes on an ethnography of secularism. Focaal, 2011(59), 83-88. [details]


    • Verkaaik, O. (2010). A real terrorist. In N. Khan (Ed.), Crisis and beyond: re-evaluating Pakistan (pp. 89-117). (Critical Asian studies). Routledge. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2010). Muhajir politics: ethnicity, Islam, and the Muhajir Qaumi Movement. In R. Kalia (Ed.), Pakistan: from the rhetorics of democracy to the rise of militancy (pp. 49-63). New Delhi: Routledge. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2010). Reforming mysticism: Sindhi separatist intellectuals in Pakistan. In M. Marsden (Ed.), Islam and society in Pakistan: anthropological perspectives (pp. 111-131). (Oxford in Pakistan readings in sociology and social anthropology). Karachi: Oxford University Press. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2010). The Sufi saints of Sindhi nationalism. In M. Boivin, & M. A. Cook (Eds.), Interpreting the Sindhi world: essays on society and history (pp. 196-215). Oxford University Press. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2010). The cachet dilemma: ritual and agency in new Dutch nationalism. American Ethnologist, 37(1), 69-82. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2010). Tussen Marrakech and Theater De Flint: ideologie en praktijk in moskeebouw. Justitiële Verkenningen, 36(6), 20-26. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A., & Spronk, R. (Eds.) (2010). Sexular fantasies: The Occident and its religious Others. Focaal, 59(1).



    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2008). Cosmopolistan: culture, cosmopolitanism and gender in Karachi, Pakistan. In M. Rieker, & A. Kamran (Eds.), Gendering urban space in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa (pp. 207-228). Palgrave. [details]


    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (1994). A People of Migrants: Ethnicity, State and Religion in Karachi. VU University.




    • Verkaaik, O. (2014). [Review of: A.U. Quasmi (2011) Questioning the authority of the past: the Ahl al-Qur'an movements in the Punjab]. The Historian, 76(1), 153-154. [details]
    • Verkaaik, O. (2014). [Review of: J.M. Safran (2013) Defining boundaries in al-Andalus: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Islamic Iberia]. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 82(3), 863-866. [details]




    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2018). Building New Mosques in Secular Europe: The Case of a Polder Mosque in Almere, The Netherlands.
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2018). Cows and Crisis: Paper presented at the Crisis and Ethics Workshop.
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2018). On Heritage Cows.


    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2012). Toward a more democratic distribution of fear and aversion. Abstract from Culturalization of Citizenship: on racism, populism and authenticity, .


    • Verkaaik, O. (2011). Toward a more democratic distribution of fear and aversion: Europe and South Asia compared. Paper presented at Religion and Ethnicity at the Age of Globalization: Perspectives from Europe and India.
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2011). Authenticating Ethnic Identity: Pilgrimage in Post-Colonial Sindh. Paper presented at Ritual and Nationalism in Sindh, University of Heidelberg (Germany), .

    Prize / grant

    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. & Valenta, M. (2014). KNAW Colloquium The Politics of Urban Religious Architecture’.

    Membership / relevant position

    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2011). Organizer conference on New Religious Architecture in Europe - West & East, University of Amsterdam.
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2010). Lid begeleidingscommissie van Rapportage: Evaluatie van de Naturalisatieceremonie, WODC (Min. Just.).
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (2009). Organization Anthropology Panel, Amsterdamse Universiteitsvereniging (AUV), University of Amsterdam.

    Journal editor

    • Verkaaik, O. (reviewer) (2016-2018). City and Society (Journal).
    • Verkaaik, O. (reviewer) (2016-2018). American Ethnologist (Journal).
    • Verkaaik, O. (reviewer) (2016-2018). South Asia Journal (Journal).
    • Verkaaik, O. (reviewer) (2016-2018). Stanford U.P. (Publisher).
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (editor) (2012). American Ethnologist (Journal).
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (editor) (2012). Comparative Studies in Society and History (Journal).
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (editor) (2012). European Research Council (Journal).
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (editor) (2012). Anthropological Theory (Journal).
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (editor) (2012). Social Anthropology (Journal).
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (editor) (2010-2011). American Ethnologist (Journal).

    Talk / presentation

    • Verkaaik, O. (speaker) (5-6-2016). Public lecture on sacred architecture, Sacrale Stenen, public symposium organized by Birgit Meyer and Daan Beekers.
    • Verkaaik, O. (speaker) (1-4-2016). Practising Secularism in Dutch Mosque Issues: Constitutional versus nativist secularism., Religion in Urban Contexts’ Symposium, Utrecht University , Utrecht.
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (invited speaker) (27-11-2014). A Dutch Mosque: Mosque Architecture as a Learning Process, Iconic buildings, building iconicity: religious diversity, materiality and the transformation of urban space’, Utrecht.
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (invited speaker) (26-6-2014). Building a Dutch Islam: The Case of the New Almere Mosque, Practical wisdom, mediated performance, and everyday diversity: Muslims and others’, Utrecht.
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (invited speaker) (25-2-2014). Modernity and Tradition in Contemporary Religious Architecture: A Mosque, A Synagogue, and a Chapel., Muslim-Jewish Relations Panel Series: Exploring Identity, Cambridge, UK.


    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (organiser) & Valenta, M. (organiser) (2014). KNAW colloquium, Amsterdam. The Politics of Urban Religious Architecture (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Verkaaik, O. G. A. (organiser) (2013). Global Culture Seminar Series (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities