Is Islam a Cultural Capital? - 5 March 2014
Dr Hatsuki Aishima
Wednesday, 5th March 2014 at 1815
Room KSW.2.13 at the LSE
Is Islam a Cultural Capital? Religion, Social Class and Education in Contemporary Egypt
Through an urban ethnography of young middle class Egyptians, my work explores the various ways in which the consumption of Islamic knowledge produced through mass media and education is intimately related to their aspiration of embracing middle class culture (Liechty 2002; Peterson 2011). Anthropological inquiries into mass media and Islam, particularly with regard to da‘wa practices, have demonstrated the significance of “staging” strategies of public religious personalities (Salvatore 1998) as well as the diverse ways in which mass-mediated Islam facilitates the sustenance of lay audiences’ moral disposition (Hirschkind 2006). This paper furthers such studies by shedding light on the youthful aspirations and challenges of educated Egyptian Muslims when engaging in da‘wa activities. Da‘wa is one of the most important concepts in modern Islam which may be glossed as an invitation, invocation, prayer, or missionary activities, depending on the context in which the word is used. In his work on Nepalese middle class, Mark Liechty (2002: 31) discussed “how media products constantly intersect with, promote, and naturalize a host of other commodities, helping to create ‘aura’ of meaning that surround other goods with consumer desires.” Taking into account the nexus of new media, the education industry and the global political economy, this study analyses how a strategic segment of young Egyptians were called upon to communicate with non-Muslims of the West about ways of being Muslim in the post-9/11 era.
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