Rosa Martinez-Cuadros, Carolina Estesio Rubio, Mar Griera

Defying secularization. Biographical trajectories of young Muslim and Sikh women activists in Barcelona

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Islam, Sikhism, gender, religion, activism

This article focuses on analysing the biographical trajectories of young Muslim and Sikh activist women in Barcelona. Drawing on qualitative interviews and ethnographic observations, we explore how these young women interpret, negotiate and perform their sense of belonging to religious minorities in a highly secularized context. The article makes three main arguments: first, we show how these women build their own understanding of religious orthodoxy. They develop a reflexive understanding of their faith, whilst also cultivating a specific emotional regime in which their choice is validated and authenticated by specific feelings. They claim not only to be Muslim or Sikh but also to feel as such. Second, we show how these women perform active boundary-work to demarcate religion from culture and ethnicity. It is this boundary-work that allows them to «purify» religion, whilst reinterpreting traditional gendered religious teachings. Third, the article shows how these women create spaces to foster their religious engagement and develop an intense social network. In many cases, networking occurs outside traditional religious centres, which are perceived as ambivalent at best.

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