Date of Award

7-20-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Women's Studies

First Advisor

Amira Jarmakani - Chair

Second Advisor

Layli Phillips

Third Advisor

Margaret Mills Harper

Abstract

This thesis addresses the lack of scholarly attention devoted to African American Sunni women by examining how they use collective memory to negotiate embodied agency. Through an analysis of African American Sunni women’s narratives of testifying conversion, and vignettes from diaries and interviews, I show how African American Sunni women utilize racial, religious, and spiritual memory in the form of ritual practices and Islamic texts to multiply construct their bodies, and how this construction allows them to enact multimodal and nomadic forms of agency. A contextual analysis also illustrates how environment and interpretation (tafsir) further mobilizes forms of agency, articulating a need for flexibility in regard to the concept of embodied agency and challenging the dichotomy prevalent in Western and Eurocentric conceptions of liberatory agency.

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