The racialization of Muslims in France and the US:

Some insights from white converts to Islam
Juliette Galonnier, Social Compass, December issue
  • Photo Mila Supynska, FotoliaPhoto Mila Supynska, Fotolia

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The racialization of Muslims in France and the United States: Some insights from white converts to Islam

Juliette Galonnier (OSC Sciences Po, Northwestern University)

Social Compass, December 2015, vol. 62, n° 4, p. 570-583
Published online November 4 2015

Juliette Galonnier (OSC)

This article uses conversion to Islam as a lens through which to explore the intricacies of race and religion in France and the United States. Using in-depth interviewing and ethnography, the author explores how white converts relate to their allegedly dissonant racial and religious identities in national contexts where Islam has been racialized as ‘Brown’ and foreign. Focusing on two countries that have historically had highly contrasted understandings of race and religion, she offers a comparative analysis of how race operates in the lives of Muslim converts on both sides of the Atlantic. The article shows that, even though processes of racial assignation work in a similar manner in both cases, French and American converts report different experiences with race, thereby suggesting that the racialization of Islam is endowed with different textures and meanings across national contexts.

Recently published:

Sociology of Religion

Teaching and Learning to Be Religious:
Pedagogies of Conversion to Islam and Christianity

Juliette Galonnier - Diego de los Rios

First published online: December 7, 2015. doi: 10.1093/socrel/srv055

Drawing on in-depth interviews and ethnographic data, this article provides one of the first empirical analyses of religious classes for converts in the United States. Focusing on “new member classes” in two religious communities (a Muslim association and an evangelical Christian church), we introduce the concept of “pedagogies of conversion” to describe how religious organizations teach converts about their new religion and set up guidelines to frame the conversion process. By examining the pedagogical tools that religious instructors use on a daily basis to foster spirituality among new members, we investigate how converts learn to become religious people. We demonstrate that while there are significant differences in the doctrines (know-what) being taught in the Muslim and evangelical classrooms, the tips and pieces of advice delivered by instructors on how to be religious (know-how) are strikingly similar.

Juliette Galonnier is training the joint PhD program in Sociology between Sciences Po Paris & Northwestern University, Chicago.