Conversion Strategies and the Power to Define: British and American Muslim Performance in Bourdieu’s Field of Art Yolanda van Tilborgh

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This paper is developed from the author’s lectures British and American Muslim Artists Regarding Bourdieu’s Field of Art at the ESA Conference in Turin, Italy, 2013, and The Rules of Art and the Field of Muslim Performing Artists in the UK & the USA at the ESA Conference in Cluj Napoca, Romania, 2014. The author would like to thank Prof. Nico Wilterdink, MA Irene Timmer MSc and Claire Meeuwsen MSc for their important suggestions to improve this lecture, and Dr. Bart van Heerikhuizen for his general remarks on the topic concerned.


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1Available the-muslim-population-in-europe/ (accessed January 18, 2016).

2Available -expected-to-surpass-jews-as-second-largest-u-s-religious-group/ (accessed January 18, 2016).

3Available -least-racially-diverse-u-s-religious-groups/ (accessed January 18, 2016).

4 With religious artistic, I mean the blending of religious and artistic cultural tastes and orientations.

5 To Boubekeur, these Muslims are people who “make recourse to a social discourse of self-definition marked by a public Islamic religiosity” (Boubekeur 2007)[3].

6 Available: (accessed February 6, 2012).

7 Van der Zwaag, K. (2011) “Casanova: We kunnen niet meer gedachtenloos seculier zijn.” Reformatorisch Dagblad.

Available at:

we_kunnen_niet_meer_gedachteloos_seculier_zijn_1_539211 (accessed November 28, 2015). Based on the lecture God in a Cold Climate. Religion in the Secular Public Sphere: Challenges and Responses by José Casanova at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, March 10, 2011.

8 This study Singing or Sinning: Cultural Orientations among British and American Muslim Performing Artists is partly funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO and has respectively taken place at Radboud University Nijmegen (Religious Studies) and University of Amsterdam (Sociology).

9 The broader study has left out artists of productions in other (Urdu, Punjabi) languages.

10 For meeting respondents, I particularly used the method of online and offline snowball sampling.

11 Information about the artists derives predominantly from (a) in-depth interviews, but also from combinations of (a), (b) short interviews, (c) content analysis of secondary sources and (d) content analysis of (biographical) performances and Q&A sessions.

12 These three artists do not self-identify as Muslim, but tend to stand for Muslims after 9/11 or are affiliated with (secularized) Sufism.

13 Using MAXQDA software for mixed qualitative and quantitative methods of analyzing, the interviews are deconstructed along sensitizing sociological concepts deriving from relational and process sociological theories, symbolic interactionist theories and self-developed categories.

14 Available: (accessed October 13, 2014).

15 Interview with the author, Los Angeles, CA, February 11, 2010.

16 Interview with the author, London, October 20, 2010.

17 Interview with the author, Washington, March 24, 2010.

18 Allah Made Me Funny, Live in Concert, at Meervaart Theater, Amsterdam, NL, September 2, 2008.

19 Interview with the author, Chicago, IL, March 17, 2010.

20 Interview with the author, London, April 1, 2009.

21Available (accessed January 30, 2013).

22 Available at: (accessed December 23, 2012).

23 Interview with the author, London, April 20, 2009.

24 Interview with the author, Philadelphia, PA, April 24, 2010.

25Available: (accessed December 16, 2012).

26 Global Peace and Unity Event (GPU), London, October 23, 2010.

27 Interview with the author, Bradford, April 22, 2009.

28 Interview with the author, New York City, NY, April 5, 2010.

29 Interview with the author, London, October 20, 2010.

30 Interview with the author, Los Angeles, CA, January 15, 2010.

31 Interview with the author, London, September 1, 2009.

32 Short interview with the author, New York City, NY, April 20, 2010.

33 Interview with the author, San Francisco, CA, February 17, 2010.

34 Available at: (accessed November 30, 2015).

35 Interview with the author, London, March 24, 2009.

36 Interview with the author, London, December 16, 2010.

37 Interview with the author, London, December 6, 2010.

38 Interview with the author, Los Angeles, CA, January 15, 2010.

39 Available at: (accessed November 30, 2015). And: correspondence with the author, March 22, 2016.

40 Fareena Alam. “Another Inconvenient Truth.” Q-News 2006 (September/October): 368. And: correspondence with the author, March 22, 2016.

41 Available at: (accessed November 30, 2015).

42 Interview with the author, London, April 18, 2009.

43 Interview with the author, London, October 20, 2010.

44 Interview with the author, Birmingham, March 23, 2009 & December 13, 2010.

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