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Elisabeth Becker Topkara

Assistant professor/Freigeist Fellow, Max Weber Institute of Sociology, Heidelberg University


Elisabeth Becker Topkara is an Assistant Professor/Freigeist Fellow at the Max-Weber-Institute-for-Sociology, Heidelberg University. Elisabeth’s research centers on the cultural construction and contestation of borders and boundaries. She explores the experiences and place-making practices of religious, racial, and ethnic minorities – Muslims and Jews in particular – in both Europe and the United States. Elisabeth has contributed to sociological debates on how migration and pluralism shape contemporary societies, including the continued exclusions faced by Muslims in Europe through a theory of incivility and undercaste status; and the agency of Muslim and Jewish populaces to foster social change in the urban centers of Europe and the United States. Her book, Mosques in the Metropolis: Incivility, Caste, and Contention (University of Chicago Press), offers a unique look into two of Europe’s largest urban mosque communities, providing a complex picture of Muslim life, while highlighting the failures of European pluralism.

Elisabeth is also a public scholar who works with non-profit organizations (e.g., the New America Foundation and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding) and schools, specifically on combatting Antisemitism and Islamophobia, as well as Jewish-Muslim relations in Europe and the United States. Her writing on pluralism has appeared in publications such as the Washington Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Religion & Politics, and Tablet Magazine. She has been featured on BBC Radio.

Updated December 2023