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Being German, Becoming Muslim:
Race, Religion, and Conversion in the New Europe
Esra Özyürek

Paperback | 2014 | $25.95 | £20.95 | ISBN: 9780691162799
Hardcover | 2014 | $57.50 | £48.95 | ISBN: 9780691162782
192 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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Every year more and more Europeans, including Germans, are embracing Islam. It is estimated that there are now up to one hundred thousand German converts—a number similar to that in France and the United Kingdom. What stands out about recent conversions is that they take place at a time when Islam is increasingly seen as contrary to European values. Being German, Becoming Muslim explores how Germans come to Islam within this antagonistic climate, how they manage to balance their love for Islam with their society's fear of it, how they relate to immigrant Muslims, and how they shape debates about race, religion, and belonging in today’s Europe.

Esra Özyürek looks at how mainstream society marginalizes converts and questions their national loyalties. In turn, converts try to disassociate themselves from migrants of Muslim-majority countries and promote a denationalized Islam untainted by Turkish or Arab traditions. Some German Muslims believe that once cleansed of these accretions, the Islam that surfaces fits in well with German values and lifestyle. Others even argue that being a German Muslim is wholly compatible with the older values of the German Enlightenment.

Being German, Becoming Muslim provides a fresh window into the connections and tensions stemming from a growing religious phenomenon in Germany and beyond.

Esra Özyürek is an associate professor at the European Institute of the London School of Economics. She is the author of Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey.


"The result of her research is a fascinating exploration of the dynamics of Islam in contemporary Germany, seen through the prism of its capital, Berlin. Her account provides a multifaceted profile of the many faces of Islam in one Western European country, and it offers readers a good sense of the diversity of contemporary Sunni Muslims in Germany. . . . [A]n excellent study."--Ursula King, Times Higher Education

"This book provides a judicious and well thought-through consideration of such contradictions and challenges in the lives of German Muslims and offers a fascinating discussion on blurring boundaries between Germans and Muslim, and the changing realities of European identity."--Dr. Digdem Soyaltin, Turkish Review

"This book is remarkable."--Ruth Mandel, History and Anthropology

"Özyürek's Being German, Becoming Muslim makes a welcome and distinctive contribution to--as the subtitle sums up--the study of Race, religion and conversion in the New Europe."--Nasar Meer, History and Anthropology

"An engaging, poignant study of how the different paths taken by converts converge in life-long, collective practices of self-pedagogy that involve learning how to negotiate German secular-Christian social norms and institutions."--Paul A. Silverstein, History and Anthropology

"A powerful work about the politics of inclusion and exclusion, security and threat, and recognition and fairness."--Joel Robbins, History and Anthropology

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction Germanizing Islam and Racializing Muslims 1
Chapter 1 Giving Islam a German Face 24
Chapter 2 Establishing Distance from Immigrant Muslims 51
Chapter 3 East German Conversions to Islam after the Collapse of the Berlin Wall 69
Chapter 4 Being Muslim as a Way of Becoming German 87
Chapter 5 Salafism as the Future of European Islam? 109
Chapter 6 Conclusion 132
Notes 137
References 149
Index 163


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