Date of Degree

6-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Middle Eastern Studies

Advisor

Bryan S. Turner

Advisor

Simon Davis

Subject Categories

Near Eastern Languages and Societies | Other International and Area Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology

Keywords

Identity, Religion

Abstract

This paper explores the topic of religious conversion in relation to Pierre Bourdieu's theory of habitus, with a focus on Catholic Latina converts to Sunni Islam. Bourdieu suggests that these types of religious choices are not choices at all, but predetermined by an individual's history, culture, and setting. That is, an individual already has dispositions that are taken for granted. While this study's participants report that Islam is a new religion for them and not a continuation of their Catholic faith (as habitus would suggest,) this study shows that these converts retain dispositions that are consistent with their previous religious identity. However, there are limits to the theory of habitus when analyzing complex, patterns of behavior including religious conversion. Therefore, a theory of reflexive-identity formation is also considered. I argue that these Latina converts are breaking down traditional religious boundaries and, in doing so, they embody the complexity of a modern identity.

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