Arab Apostates: Media and the Making of a Defiant Minority


Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs




How do religious minorities in the Arab world fight stigma in the digital age? This project explores the effect of the Arab uprisings on Arab identity by focusing on the controversial case of Arab apostates in the context of a defiant turn where minorities use media to reject unifying nationalist narratives centered on Islamic identity. “Arab Apostates” is based on the textual analysis of a large corpus of primary Arabic-language apostate accounts transmitted through a variety of media and is informed by theories of stigma and debates about post-secularism, contemporary Islams, and political questions about contemporary religious movements. As a critical cultural studies project, it challenges the academic neglect of a phenomenon with potentially dramatic consequences for the Middle East. It also corrects a bias in the apostasy literature, which favors apostates from cults, restoring the significance of the accounts of apostates from mainstream religions.