Radicalized LoyaltiesBecoming Muslim in the West
Radicalized Loyalties
Becoming Muslim in the West
Translated by Seth Ackerman
There is widespread concern today about the “radicalization” of young muslim men, and the deprived areas of Western cities are believed to have become breeding grounds of home-grown extremism. But how do young Muslims growing up in the cities of the West really live?

This book takes us beyond the rhetoric and into the housing estates on the outskirts of Paris to meet Adama, Radouane, Hassan, Tarik, Marley, and a shadowy figure whose name suddenly and brutally became known to the world at the time of the <i>Charlie Hebdo</i> shootings: Amédy Coulibaly. Seeing Amédy through the eyes of close friends and other young Muslim men in the neighbourhoods where they grew up, Fabien Truong uncovers a network of competing loyalties and maps the road these youths take to resolve the conflicts they face: becoming Muslim. For these young men, Islam stands, often alone, as a resource, a gateway – as if it were the last route to “escape” without betrayal and to “fight” in a meaningful and noble way.

Becoming Muslim does not necessarily lead to the radicalized “other”. It is more like a long-distance race, a powerful reconversion of the self that allows for introspection and change. But it can also lead to a belligerent presentation of the self that transforms a dead-end into a call to arms.
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  • July 2018
  • 220 pages
  • 158 x 232 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509519347
  • Paperback $24.95
  • 9781509519354
  • Open eBook $19.99
  • 9781509519385
Table of Contents
  • Note to the Reader
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: The call of the ground
  • Friday the 13th
  • Behind absurdity, the social world
  • The magic of “radicalization”
  • A bad religion for “bad seeds”?
  • Finding Allah at street-level
  • Chapter 1: Common histories
  • Making a home in public housing: a French history
  • “Boys will be boys”
  • Conflicting loyalties, recognition of debts
  • “A white fence-post in a dark forest”
  • Rebels without a cause, or a cause without rebels?
  • Chapter 2: On the margins of the city
  • Imprints of school
  • The incompleteness of le business
  • Common criminals
  • Masculine machines
  • Police, death, and hatred: a political trinity
  • Chapter 3: Reconversions
  • Being or becoming Muslim? The “community” illusion
  • The Koran: reading and sharing
  • In the here and now: getting better
  • Beyond the here and now: being the best
  • The value of reconversion and the reconversion of values
  • Chapter 4: War and Peace
  • Turning thirty: the verdict
  • Toward a sociology of inner peace
  • Kif-kif
  • Desires for Syria: going off to war, over there
  • “I am Amédy”: at war, over here
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Index
About the Author
Fabien Truong is lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Paris-8.
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“Truong takes us deep inside the personal world of six immigrant young men from France’s disreputable urban periphery. He shows how they navigate the promises and demands of the school, the street economy, the prison and the police, and why they are attracted (or not) by Islam as a ‘floating political imaginary.’ An insightful and urgent contribution to the analysis of the social fabrication of terrorists that punctures the sonorous but empty notion of ‘radicalization.’”
Loïc Wacquant, University of California, Berkeley

"It is not a clash of civilizations that Fabien Truong vividly describes but a collapse of communities, as young men in transitional stages of their life search for significance in the West's Muslim diaspora. If you want to understand how most overcome feelings of rootlessness and despair and how a few become jihadis, read this book."
Scott Atran, CNRS, Paris, and University of Oxford

"Truong vividly describes the lives of young men from immigrant backgrounds in the Paris banlieue, charting their trajectories from dropping out of school towards crime and then prison. This is an extremely valuable book, rich in ethnographic detail and very well written: I was irresistibly drawn in to this world of kickbacks, payoffs and unsettlingly deep resentment against the whole of French society."
David Lehmann, University of Cambridge, UK

"An excellent ethnography of Muslim masculinity’"
Times Higher Education

‘a thoughtful, well-crafted ethnography that humanizes the faceless, amorphous “Muslim youth” of the French banlieues’
Los Angeles Review of Books

Radicalized Loyalties is an outstanding study of the social worlds of immigrant young men living in the urban periphery of Paris… The book will be of great interest to scholars within the cross-disciplinary field of (counter)terrorism studies as well as to social scientists and anthropologists interested in state-margin relationships, Islam, the secular state, and the administration of the urban periphery in the West.’

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