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Call For Papers: This American Muslim Life: The Cultural Politics of Asserting the Familiar

Call For Papers:

This American Muslim Life:  The Cultural Politics of Asserting the Familiar

-Proposed Panel for 2015 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in Denver, Nov. 18-22
-Conference theme:  “Familiar/Strange”
-Organizers: Maria Curtis (University of Houston-Clear Lake) and Alisa Perkins (Western Michigan University)

Recent coverage of the Charlie Hebdo incident in France casts a long shadow over Muslims living in the West, publically asserting an austere face of Islam that is far “stranger” than the everyday experience of most practitioners.  This panel asks why must Islam in the West be “made strange,” and what does a lived Islam grounded in ethnographic perspective look like once it is plucked from the familiar/strange duality and instead viewed as an American Muslim “way of knowing.” We aim to collectively examine how Muslims in America are blurring lines by carrying out aspects of their everyday lives “in a Muslim way” (Henkel 2008). Papers may cover a wide range of topics examining how familiar ways of doing things take on novel meanings for Muslims as they are rehearsed in American spaces; and/or how non-Muslims reinterpret American spaces or cultural life by engaging with Muslim minority cultural, material, and institutional forms. The aim of the panel is to build an understanding of how Muslim minorities expand religious and cultural boundaries in an American scene already crowded with multisecularisms on the one hand, and neoconservatisms on the other. What is at stake for Muslim Americans when they are called upon to answer for the “stranger” articulations of political Islam, and in an environment of overdetermined “strangeness” is an authentic Muslim American “familiar” tenable?  Papers may include a focus on space and public culture, materiality, institution building, conversion, the poetics of personal life, festivals and demonstrations, performance and artistic production, political activism, legal and civic engagement, interfaith movements, cityscapes, education, cultural brokerage, Muslim business and finance, and halal foodways.

Please send a 250 word abstract and a title for your proposed contribution to both Maria Curtis ( and Alisa Perkins ( by Saturday, Feb 14th.  Authors of accepted proposals will be notified via email by Monday Feb 16th.  Please contact us in advance with any questions about this proposed panel session.