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Open AccessArticle

“Speaking Out Would Be a Step Beyond Just Not Believing”—On the Performativity of Testimony When Moving Out of Islam

Department of Islam Studies, Faculty of Philosophy, Theology & Religious Studies, Radboud University, 6525HT Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Religions 2019, 10(10), 563; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100563
Received: 21 August 2019 / Revised: 27 September 2019 / Accepted: 30 September 2019 / Published: 30 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transformations of Religiosity)
This article investigates the narratives of people moving out of Islam in contemporary Europe. In particular, it focusses on the potential performance of non-belief in the form of speech. By critically examining the function of testimony in conversion and deconversion narratives, this article problematises the assumed boundaries of belief, non-belief, and the function of the performance of identity. It does so by investigating contemplations over private and public performances, since the performance of speech was thought to have different effects in both spheres. Whilst public discourses on leaving Islam and speaking freely were always weighed, in private these were related to familial bonds, love, and belonging. On the other hand, considering speaking out in public was often contextualised with reference to potential secularist appropriation of their stories as ‘native testimonial’. As such, my interlocutors show that testifying of one’s religious transformation in the case of moving out of Islam was neither central nor conditional. Speech was mostly considered a ‘step beyond’ not believing. View Full-Text
Keywords: religious deconversion; Islam in Europe; testimony; narrative; conversion; deconversion; ex-Muslim religious deconversion; Islam in Europe; testimony; narrative; conversion; deconversion; ex-Muslim
MDPI and ACS Style

Vliek, M. “Speaking Out Would Be a Step Beyond Just Not Believing”—On the Performativity of Testimony When Moving Out of Islam. Religions 2019, 10, 563.

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