Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Where do Muslim Turkish men who live in Strasbourg go after work? What are the kinds of places they socialize? Is it home? Is it the mosque? Or is it elsewhere, like coffeehouses, or wherever the car takes them in Strasbourg, and beyond, such as nightclubs, drinking alleys, bistro-casinos and brothels in Kehl and other neighboring German cities? And if it is the latter, and it rarely should be, as the imams would warn the pupils attending religious conversation circles, and the Friday sermons, how do these men justify their presence in these spaces? How do they reflect on their moral transgressions, and come to terms with them?

This dissertation is a collection of stories of Muslim Turkish men in Strasbourg who sin. And repent. And then, sin again. The men whose stories I recount are not much different than other men of faith in that they live their lives fearing an authority: God/Allah. Almost all of them are cognizant that the eternal rewards they will get in Cennet, that is, the Heaven, outcompete the luxuries they can enjoy in this world. And that means that they would have to suffer now in order to find comfort in the afterworld. Yet, the desires of the mortal body are often times too hard to tame. And that is not only because the joys in life are too tempting. It is true that the youth want to “live life.” That piety can wait. And sins are to be committed in their journey to old age. But it is also that the intimacies and respect my interlocutors seek at work, at home, or even at the mosque, are sometimes simply lacking. Hence, they situate themselves in venues where they attain the fulfillment that they seek. The caveat, however, is that these venues are often inviting of sins. Even a place as seemingly innocuous as the coffeehouse can encourage activities that are condoned such as cigarette smoking, or illicit and therefore forbidden, such as alcohol consumption. Or a night that starts at a place like a coffeehouse can lead to a night out with friends to bars, nightclubs, casinos or brothels, all of which are a short car ride away. So, should these men simply refrain from visiting these places? Some do. But for many others, such limits on the self are futile. This dissertation is written with the intention of exploring such men’s lives, and to provide an account of their moral failures, that is, their failures to be/come better Muslims, and their struggles amidst these failures.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

John Bowen

Committee Members

Peter Benson, Geoff Childs, Rebecca Lester, Aria Nakissa,


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