Accepted paper:

#muslimcouples: Islamic heritage sites as lifestyle content in digital culture


Fatma Sagir (Albert-Ludwigs-Universit├Ąt Freiburg)

Paper short abstract:

Islamic religious heritage sites became content in the practice of Muslim lifestyle blogging. This paper explores the impact of this practice on the making of Muslim identity on one hand, and its contribution to the discourse of imagining the Muslim present and past, on the other hand.

Paper long abstract:

A Muslim couple face the Kaaba; a Muslim woman poses infront of the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem; amidst the flowers of Alhambra's gardens, a young Muslim woman in a headscarf fashions a white dress: These are Muslim lifestyle blogger's posts of Islamic heritage sites. This paper seeks to shed light onto this phenomenon and the questions that arise from it. Muslim lifestyle bloggers create images of Muslims in general, but particularly, of Muslim women, differing from negative portraying of Islam and Muslims. While they offer a different visibility of Muslims, their blogging practices intersect with those generally associated with digital culture: putting the self and its presentation at the core. The posing infront of sacred spaces and religious heritage sites, such as the Kaaba during pilgrimage, using the hashtag muslimcouples, appear as an immediate condratiction of the assembeled symbolisms of spirituality and "worldly" practice. This paper argues that this practice indicates the making of new Muslim identities, negotiating tradition, religion and modernity, and furthermore, understanding it as part of imagining the Islamic past and present. I will do so by focusing on Instagram samples that include Islamic heritage sites, exploring questions such as: What debates and discourses on lifestyle, consumerism, imagining an ideal past and present and re-connecting with the Islamic past are mirrored in digital culture? Does the presentation of the self online through selfies and posts lead to"reducing" religious heritage sites into props for blogging, or is it a continuing re-defining and enlivening of these spaces?

panel D06
Religious heritage spaces: disputes and convergences