Accepted Paper:

Ordinary lives, ordinary people: Muslim lifestyle bloggers and the performance of the Muslim self in digital culture  
Fatma Sagir (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)

Paper short abstract:

With the emergence of social media young Muslims seek to change misprepresentations and negative images of Muslims. In seeking to represent a "normal" life, performing the Muslim self in set scenes is key to Muslim lifestyle blogging.

Paper long abstract:

The image and representation of Muslims in media and public debate was (and often times still is) very much informed on one hand by the traditional understanding of what a "true" Muslim should be and on the other hand by overwhelmingly negative media images in the realm of global terrorism. Young Muslims started, with the emergence of social media such as Instagram and YouTube, and with the help of digital technology, creating own images, challenging both of these offerings. Lifestyle blogger Dina Tokio asks "How many stereotypes should we break? (…) We are normal people."

I suggest, that these young Muslim lifestyle bloggers push against Islamophobia as much as against a traditionalist understanding of Islam through their blogging practice, while the performativity of their Muslim selves is key. Within this frame, this paper wishes to present first research results of my case-study on lifestyle blogging by British Muslim couple Sid and Dina on YouTube and Instagram.

Goffman's ideas on image-management and face-work support my early findings. While seeking for an individual representation of their lives as Muslims, they set their selves and their everyday lives into scene, performing a Muslim self infront of their Smartphones and cameras, broadcasting their "normal", "ordinary" lives. However, this practice challenges the traditional Islamic separation of the private (family, women, partnership) and the public.

This paper wishes to shed light onto the above desribed phenomenon and to discuss follow-up questions on the performativity of the self in digital culture in general.

Panel Digi02
Changing features? Performing the self in digital culture [SIEF WG Digital Ethnology and Folklore] [P+R]