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Theses

Choosing faith and facing race : converting to Islam in France and the United States

Abstract : This research is about race and religion. While scholars typically understand them separately, I propose instead to explore occurrences in which they are conflated. Specifically, I track instances of racial reasoning that occur in relation to the religion of Islam in Western societies, by focusing on the specific experiences of Muslim converts. By crossing religious boundaries, converts shed light on the nature and content of such boundaries, and enable us to decide whether they are simply religious or also embody racial difference. The case of white converts is particularly interesting: because their conversion implies transitioning from one social status (majority) to another (minority), they offer a near-experimental case to investigate how racial categorization operates. Methodologically, I combine the meticulousness of qualitative methods with the bird’s eye view of comparatism. Using in-depth interviewing with 82 converts in France and the United States; ethnographic observations in convert associations in Paris and Chicago; and content analysis of media and historical documents, I compare the past and present experiences of French and American converts to answer the following: how and when is conversion to Islam interpreted in terms of changing one’s racial status rather than a mere change in religious orientation? In addition to shedding light on the complex interplay between race and religion, this research contributes to transatlantic comparative scholarship, by highlighting differences across the French and American contexts in the conversion process, the encounter with race and the strategies used by converts to reclaim control over their definition of self.
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https://hal-sciencespo.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-03654233
Contributor : Hélène Saint-Gal Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 2:38:13 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 29, 2022 - 3:35:37 AM

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  • HAL Id : tel-03654233, version 1

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Juliette Galonnier. Choosing faith and facing race : converting to Islam in France and the United States. Sociology. Institut d'études politiques de Paris - Sciences Po; Northwestern university, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017IEPP0016⟩. ⟨tel-03654233⟩

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