This panel explores, in the context of neo-imperial interventionism and Islamic identity politics, the practices of Muslim ethics. We welcome papers on the moralities of Muslim activism, intellectual reflections on ethics as well as on representations, models and discourses about Islam and Muslims.
There is a widely-shared presumption that Muslim societies or institutions do not allow their members any autonomy vis-à-vis Islamic social regulations, practices or imaginaries, particularly in relation to religious law or to Islamic scriptures. This assumption seems to be shared both by those who make reductive and Islamophobic claims about Muslims' lack of moral sense and by those who invoke Islam as justification for authoritarianism and violence. Recent work in the anthropology of ethics has drawn attention to the issues of freedom, involving a turn from presumptions of the conditioning of human action by social structures or inculcated modes of perception to a more open exploration of people's relative ethical autonomy. For instance, both Mahmood (2005) and Hirschkind (2006) have developed an account of ethical self-fashioning among Muslims committed to 'piety movements' in Egypt. Similar works have been done in South Asian contexts (e.g. Ahmad 2008). In these studies, virtuous dispositions are understood as acquired through engaging in a disciplinary practice rather than by individuals' following of societal rules. Building upon these approaches and others, this panel invites contributors to engage with questions surrounding Muslim moralities, including subjects' character formation and cultivation of moral selves; the constitution of the human good in Islamic pedagogies; ethics and politics (domestic and international); moral development through arts-apprenticeship traditions; Sufi devotional and disciplinary practices; ethical subjectivity in new Muslim spiritualities; the ethics of media and media of ethics; and ethics and popular culture. These themes are indicative, not exhaustive. We are open to others as well.