Accepted Paper:

Schoolyard, shopping mall, mosque, E-Jihad: urban formation of Jihadis  
Janina Findeisen Jeanne Berrenberg (Freie Universität)

Paper short abstract:

Taking three biographies of German Muslims as example, the paper will explore the local urban life-worlds and the confluence of local and translocal discourses informing ‘conversion’ to Salafi and then Jihadi convictions leading to “hijra” to Waziristan.

Paper long abstract:

Videos on Youtube, advertising Jihad: German Muslims, "reborn" or converts, all young; they speak German, the "text" is Islam, the subtext "adventure", the body language is part preacher part rapper part movie hero, the visuals are religious-martial TV commercials. The location is Waziristan on the Afghan border. As one is killed, his widow - a convert - rejoices: he is a shahid now, a martyr, his ultimate goal.

The trajectories of three biographies begin in a provincial German city. The backgrounds are diverse: sons of labour migrants and cosmopolitan political refugees, both Muslims, one German middle class woman, a convert. They met in the schoolyard. They have their A-levels.

The paper explores the processes of shaping and being shaped in and by their urban life-worlds on their way from schoolyard to Jihad. They highlight urbanity as a manoeuvre area for social identity politics between anonymity or camouflage, adjustment or conspicuous visibility, politics of inclusion or exclusion, and the multiple symbolic codings of status boundaries, belonging and the opportunity to re-invent one's Self. Cultural memories, deterritorialized and majority practices and local and translocal discourses are informing the investigation of the role of Jihadi: a hybrid at the confluence of Pop, the conflict of generations, discourses of Islam uprooted from culture/s, definitions of values and collective identities, the opportunities and exactions of social mobility and urban anonymity with the opportunities to design an identity between highly exclusive community at the local mosque and worldwide e-Jihad.

Panel P116
How do places make people? Examining the relationship between urban imaginary and Muslim life in European cities