Islamization as a Strategy for Reconciliation between Modernity and Tradition: Examples from Contemporary Arab Gulf States

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The article analyses how Islam, traditions and modernity are socially negotiated and reconstructed in the Arab Gulf states under the influence of globalization and new communication technologies. Although these concepts are subjected to 'reifications', they are important in the official rhetoric for the legitimization of political power. The author bases her study on conventional anthropological fieldwork, as well as 'e-fieldwork' on the Internet/e-mails. The article presents the results of an e-survey on Gulf youths' attitudes towards modernization and Westernization, analyses 'freedom of speech in cyberspace' from discussions held on the Internet on politics and gender relations and finally gives examples from newspapers revealing the ambiguous attitude towards Islam, tradition and modernity in the public discourse. The conclusion is that Islamization is a strategy that incorporates both resistance to and accommodation of modernity, and could be viewed as the culturally accepted form of modernization in Muslim contexts. Islamization serves in the Gulf as a third alternative resolving the paradoxes between tradition and modernity as it creates a discourse of coalition between the traditional and modern discourses.


  • Pernilla Ouis
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social and Economic Geography
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-334
JournalIslam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch