The UH Center for Immigration Research, in conjunction with the Department of Sociology, hosted a talk on Tuesday in the Honors College Common Room at the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library featuring Dr. Chantal Saint-Blancat, associate professor of sociology at the University of Padua in Italy. Saint-Blancat said that there has been a growth of Muslim communities in Europe, which has a population of 16.7 million people.
Muslims make up about 6.5 percent of Italy’s national population. This expansion, however, is not always welcome. She said because of previous terrorist attacks, a sense of “Islamophobia” is growing in the European society.”
“Muslims are expected to organize in the community, but Italians prefer them when they are invisible,” Saint-Blancat said. “They are often seen as a threat to democracy.
“Muslims in the European Public Space: The Italian Case” focused on Blancat’s study of the social, cultural, and religious aspects and changes in gender identity and family structure within the Muslim community, specifically in Italy.
She also focused on how Muslim immigrants develop ties at the local level and manage to carve out a place for themselves in European regions.
Since the expansion of the Muslim community, more mosques have been built on public space.
Her analysis showed the importance of economic factors concerning citizenship and identity. Muslim immigrants, because of the ongoing Arab Spring, come to Europe with low socioeconomic backgrounds.
But, she said, there has been a gradual emergence of a young middle-class elite.
“The European Muslim is from a young, fertile population,” Saint-Blancat said.
“The younger Muslim population, born from immigrants, knows how to be a part of the society.”
Blancat has degrees from the University of Paris and the University of Padua.
She received a doctorate in sociology and social research at the University of Trento in Italy. At the University of Padua, she serves as associate professor and vice director of the doctorate program in sociology. Her work deals with national, ethnolinguistic and religious socio-cultural changes among minority groups.