Alexis Rolando Chavez

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10593

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Chavez, Alexis (Chicago, U. of) "Islam and Racialized Urban Men: Thinking about Religiosity in France's Low-Income Neighborhoods"

In June 2021, French-Tunisian rapper Brulux featured on Sami al-Fihri’s Elhiwar Ettounsi. To al-Fihri’s surprise, Brulux was a hafiz (memorizer of the entire Qur’an) and could recite the Qur’an with tajwid (erudite recitation). When asked about the irony of being a hafiz and rapping about “immorality,” Brulux responded by saying “I hope God guides me soon.” This project revisits a classic question in the anthropology of religion: namely, what is religion and how do we know religiosity when we see it? I hypothesize that French Muslim men of immigrant background who do not strictly follow religious prescriptions nevertheless manifest significant forms of practice and compliance, but which are overlooked under narrow and sanitized conceptions of religiosity. Sociologists of French neoliberalism have inadvertently studied them vis-à-vis urban marginality, and they also remain largely absent in studies of Muslims in France due to widespread interests in the Islamic revival and debates about the headscarf. By attending to the religious affinities of racialized urban men, this project interrogates the relationship between practice and belief, thereby developing a capacious framework for studying overlooked forms of religious care and the diverse range of inclinations towards Islam outside the religious/secular binary.