Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Identity and Equity
Secondary Theme: Inclusivity
For the past thirty years or so, anthropologists have argued for approaching Islam as a discursive tradition, conceptualizing discourse(s) in Foucault’s (1980) sense—particular ways of representing social life (e.g. Asad 1986; Bowen 1993; Deeb 2006). In this panel, we shift the focus toward a linguistic anthropology of Islam via discourse analysis, examining language use as social practice. The panel addresses two broad questions: (1) How can linguistic data help us better understand Muslims’ social worlds? (2) How do individuals use language to project Muslim identifications and contest other possible identifications? Through detailed analysis of local action and interaction embedded in the wider social world, this panel examines the linguistic, discursive, and semiotic practices of Muslim individuals and communities in diverse settings, including prayer spaces, online discussion groups, schools, seated gatherings, tent-making, homes and workplaces. Concerned with how Muslims categorize themselves and others, conceptualize their own belonging in settings where they are often perceived as Others, and interact with one another and with non-Muslims in both religious and secular spaces, we focus on ethnographic work conducted in North America, Germany, France, Oman, and Spain. We consider issues of gender and sexuality in communal prayer; the relationship between language, religion, and belonging in diaspora; code choice and clothing as communicative resources; the ethics of daily activity, sociality, and privacy; and how proselytizing across everyday interactions shapes religious affiliation. Zane Goebel will serve as a discussant.