The turn to a 'neo-revivalist' religious identity as a form of 'self-othering'
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis investigates the turn to a neo-revivalist Muslim identity in the West as a form of self-othering. The binary dichotomy of self and other is used as a framework for the apparent divide between Muslims and the West. Second and third-generation disapora neo-revivalists personalise religion and through their hermeneutics seek an expression of religion that transcends cultural practice. They self-other in a way reactionary to society, and also react to the religion of their parents’ generation, which for them is not spiritual enough and instead is too steeped in cultural practices. Secularism and the post-secular turn is considered in Western society to provide context to the West that these neo-revivalists are located within. The diversity of Muslims is investigated to contextualise the neo-revivalist shift, which rather than being tolerant of diversity amongst Muslims seeks a separation of culture from religion. As second- and third-generation diaspora Muslims are the children of Muslim migrants to the West, the inter-generational divide is investigated. First-generation migrants have a continuity to their religious expression based on their experiences within the country of origin, whereas second- and third-generation migrants engage in a re-negotiation process to enable their religiosity to be relevant to Western societies. Qualitative case studies relating to the performance of religious identity, that is necessarily public, are utilised from Britain and the United States to further contextualise neo-revivalism. Literary mediation and mediatisation are examined in the context and globalisation. Contemporary literature is utilised to consider the self-critique of issues relating to integration and assimilation of Muslims in Western society by Muslims in Western societies. These cosmopolitan voices provide an internal understanding of the issues involved. Media-technologies have enabled a wide range of discourses to circulate about the current geopolitic following ‘9/11’ and Muslims themselves have utilised these mediated-technologies, and as such, neo-revivalism is necessarily a product of time, place and circumstance. Finally, a conclusion is reached and in seeking to understand the neo-revivalist turn and the place of Muslims in the West, a cosmopolitan ethic of integration is proposed that seeks to turn away from essentialisations and binary oppositions, but instead, through an engagement in respectful and reflexive critical dialogue, it is hoped that our shared universal humanity may be realised.