Neo-Liberalism and the New Muslim Self in Egypt

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019, 08:50 WIB


This talk focuses on the growing body of self-help literature in Egypt, exploring its relationship to global capitalism and culture. Informed by modern insights into the self and its formation, the genre blurs the boundary between psychology and religion, valorizing self-exploration and self-fulfillment. The inherent message of self-help is not simply the glorification of the individual but, more pointedly, the sacralization of the self and subjective life choices, which aligns with capitalist values and contrasts with customary attitudes (Egyptian and Islamic) regarding the importance of family and society. Self-help does not simply draw on Islamic tradition for legitimacy; it entangles the tradition in new discourses and practices that facilitate the emergence of different understandings of what it means to be Muslim.  

Jeffrey Kenney is a fulbright research scholar and professor of Religious Studies at DePauw University, USA. His research and publications focus on modern Islam, with special attention to religious discourse in Egypt’s public space and the impact of modernization on expressions of Islam. His publications include Muslim Rebels: Kharijites and the Politics of Extremism in Egypt (Oxford UP) and Islam in the Modern World, co-edited with Ebrahim Moosa (Routledge).