Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies vol:36 issue:9 pages:1483-1497
This paper analyzes, from a comparative point of view, the ethnic dimensions in both the (public) discourse and identity strategies of European converts to Islam. In order to highlight the very different conditions European neo-Muslims face when adopting an ethnicizing discourse and/or strategies, two divergent settings for study have been selected. We will present some data on Andalusia (Spain), where in the aftermath of Francoism, some Spanish neo-Muslims revitalized Andalusian ideas about the rootedness of Andalusia in Dar al Islam. These data will be compared with the case of Flanders (Belgium) in Northern Europe. Do we find similar ethnicizing strategies and discourses among both categories of European neo-Muslims? What are the limits and possibilities of ethnicizing conversion in both divergent settings? And what are the implications with regard to the legitimating of the claimed mediatorship of converts between the Islamic and European societies, both on an individual and collective level?
We do not have the purpose to offer an extensive account of the full range of tendencies and developments among Spanish converts to Islam. Our main interest is to highlight the possibilities Spanish converts have at their disposal for developing ethnicizing strategies, in contrast with other European neo-Muslims.