Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In this study, I examine how a group of Muslim women negotiate their Facebook use vis-à-vis piety, morality, and subjectivity at the intersection of anthropology of Islam, anthropology of ethics, anthropology of mediation, and media anthropology. I primarily look at how these Muslim women in a piety movement evaluate a media tool, Facebook, in relation to lived religion and how at the moments of moral ambivalence they go beyond the questions of understanding the religious permissibility of the act in relation to specific religious norms towards a more existential question of how one ought to live and care for one self. More specifically, I focus on what makes their shifting perceptions and choices surrounding their Facebook use as ethical and Islamic more than focusing on moral ambivalence surrounding their Facebook use. What mainly interests me, thus, is not how they see Facebook as beneficial or harmful to their religiosity from time to time but rather how they employ techniques of existence and modes of subjectivation as processes that require them to act upon oneself and transform oneself as they negotiate their Facebook use. To this end, ethnographically tracing their negotiation of Facebook use, I show that their engagement and disengagement with Facebook cannot be merely understood by relying on adherence to moral codes. Instead, they engage in consonant muhasebe—spiritual reflection on oneself and on one’s actions—to enact shifting choices surrounding Facebook use and these muhasebes allow them to act upon oneself and transform oneself in an open-ended project.