"I want you to be a Muslim": Religious subjectivity, proselytization, and discursive conversion in an ethnography of Islam

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“I cannot pressure you. I want you to be a Muslim. You could die tonight!” In this article, I examine some recurrent ethical and methodological ambiguities in my anthropological fieldwork among Danish Muslims, involving repeated confrontation with Muslim proselytization and daʿwā (invitation). I argue that the ethnographer’s religious subjectivity, as well as the manner in which the ethnographic self is constructed, negotiated, and positioned in the field, directly relates to the possibility of an intimate engagement with the Muslim narrative, affecting the reliability of the analysis and success of the ethnography. I also introduce the notion of ‘discursive conversion’ to describe the stage in which the internalization of the language of faith and voluntary acceptance of local categories allows for the direct invitation to Islam.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTidsskrift for Islamforskning
Pages (from-to)55-77
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2018

    Research areas

  • Islam, ethnographic fieldwork, Denmark, Discourse, religious conversion

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