Snapshots of British Islam: exploring self, identity, and the good ethical life in the global megalopolis

This article seeks to capture the reconfigurations of Islamic morality in England through a collection of snapshots depicting the new actors who have made their apparition in public in the post 9/11 and 7/7 context. While underlying the unintended and paradoxical effects of neoliberalism and of state interventions in the domain of "race relations," it displaces current debates on "Islamism" from a focus on organized religious movements to one that is sensitive to everyday social practices, embodied performances, and cultural assemblages. Islam in England is envisioned as a "framework," in the sense of Charles Taylor (1989), for exploring the Self and identity and for promoting the "good ethical life." Building on Lambek's (2010) notion of "ordinary ethics," I argue that Islamic morality does not automatically derive from norms promoted by religious institutions but is rather shaped by everyday practices and interactions. These dynamics are apprehended through snapshots collected during ethnographic "flâneries" in various British cities. The processes of differentiation and assimilation they reveal provide a basis for the phenomenological interpretation of Islam as it is enmeshed in the everyday world of "multiple modernities."


Publication year:
2016
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In: Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. - Vol. 45(2016), Issue 5, p. 503–528
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 Record created 2019-06-21, last modified 2019-07-30

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