This thesis examines how members of a Muslim community (made up of migrants and their descendants from various parts of North Africa, West Africa, Turkey, and elsewhere) in a small town in France seek to become moral persons through Islam. I argue that this quest for moral recognition is informed simultaneously by Islamic and French Republican values, which my French Muslim interlocutors usually conceive of as being consistent with one another. I contrast this analysis with other scholarly approaches to Islam in France that have generally explored the way non-Muslims perceive Islam to be at odds with Frenchness, how Muslims are marginalized and kept from becoming full citizens, and how certain public figures challenge and resist that oppression through explicit forms of resistance. I argue that these accounts, by focusing on Muslims seeking political recognition (from the state) in the face of oppression, have failed to account for the life projects of French Muslims, like my interlocutors, who emphasize moral over political considerations. In contrast to previous approaches, I follow my interlocutors' lead in analyzing the ways in which they seek after moral personhood and recognition as moral persons in their everyday discourse and practice. Thus, I show how an understanding of the moral projects of French Muslims is key to moving beyond a focus on suffering, oppression, and resistance in scholarship examining the experiences of migrants in France.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Anthropology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Van Woerkom, Clayton S., "Becoming Good: Muslims Pursuing Moral Personhood in a Rural French Town" (2023). Theses and Dissertations. 9900.
Islam, France, morality, personhood, recognition, suffering slot