Refining the Umma in the Shadow of the Republic: Performing Arts and New Islamic Audio-Visual Landscapes in France
Abstract

ABSTRACT:

In recent years, young pious Muslims in France have become increasingly active as arts practitioners, notably in the domain of music and performing arts. This engagement is often explained with the desire to offer the French Muslim community an alternative to the ubiquitous secular mass culture deemed detrimental to a pious subjectivity. Because the official structures of the Islamic revival movement have for a long time adopted quite a restrictive stance with regard to cultural production, but also due to Muslims’ largely working class backgrounds in France, the young artists perceive their work in terms of educating the umma. In other words, they seek to develop a cultural or artistic sensibility that is nonetheless conducive to Islamic sensitivities. By examining three small performance art pieces produced by a young generation of pious Muslim artists from the Paris region, I hope to extend our understanding of Islamic sensory politics, as well as aesthetic and ethical practices, in a world where entertainment, leisure, and the culture industry are considered increasingly decisive for the sustainability of pious self-cultivation.