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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter develops a theoretical approach in which conversion is understood as a complex contextual experience and long-term process that involves the construction of identities, discourses, and a pious self. It is based on the growing number of studies on conversion to Islam, Internet narratives, and fieldwork among Dutch female converts. Theories developed within different disciplines—history, sociology, psychology, religious studies, Islamic studies, gender studies, and anthropology—are drawn upon to make sense of the converts’ choice to embrace Islam. Discussing the stages of context, quest, crisis, advocates, interaction, commitments, and consequences, it is argued that in order to comprehend conversion as a meaningful process, it is necessary to combine three sources of theoretical inspiration: the well-established research within conversion theories on identity and the equally important work on conversion discourse, in addition to the more recent anthropological work on piety and embodied agency.

Keywords: conversion, Islam, identity, discourse, piety, pious self, embodiment, agency, gender, anthropology

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