"Just Admit it Man, You're a Spy!" Fieldwork Explorations into the Notion of Salafi "Oppositionality"

This article addresses two related problems in the current ethnographic study of Salafism. First, it draws attention to the lack of positionality exhibited by many commentators on Salafism; second, and more crucially, it highlights the reluctance of scholars to engage with what is here labelled Sala...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Fieldwork in religion
Main Author: Gauvain, Richard 1970-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Equinox [2018]
In:Fieldwork in religion
Year: 2018, Volume: 13, Issue: 2, Pages: 203-230
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B Non-Muslim / Salafīyah / Field-research
Further subjects:B Salafism
B Egypt
B al-wala' wa'l-bara'
B da'wa
B maslaha
B oppositionality
B ethnography
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:This article addresses two related problems in the current ethnographic study of Salafism. First, it draws attention to the lack of positionality exhibited by many commentators on Salafism; second, and more crucially, it highlights the reluctance of scholars to engage with what is here labelled Salafi "oppositionality". By oppositionality, I refer to a set of attitudes (non-compliance, defiance, hatred) which are formally prescribed to, and informally generated by, Salafis in their dealings with non-Muslims and very often with lapsed and/or errant Muslims. Through two case studies in pre-Arab Spring Cairo, I explore the workings of Salafi oppositionality in practice. By so doing, I highlight the often fragile and ephemeral nature of relationships that can be formed between a Western-trained ethnographer and his/her Salafi respondents, and demonstrate the ways in which instances of opposition are mutually constituted. Both the researcher and the Salafi, I argue, present each other with a dilemma. In my experience, Salafis have no problem identifying the essence of this dilemma; it is time for Western ethnographers to exhibit a similar degree of transparency.
ISSN:1743-0623
Contains:Enthalten in: Fieldwork in religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1558/firn.37640