Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Since the September 11 attacks, numerous researchers—from security experts and political scientists to sociologists and anthropologists—have discussed how Islamic organizations establish within mosques across Europe and spread sectarianism among Muslims in the region. While these researchers have provided valuable insights, the dynamics that characterize the relationship between these mosques and organizations and the resulting sectarianism seem far from self-explanatory and remain rather unclear.

This dissertation focuses on how the intersections between global and local phenomena—the so-called War on Terror and Clash of Civilizations on the one hand, and urban transformations and gentrification on the other—shape support for—and opposition to—Islamic organizations among Muslims across Europe. To that end, I draw upon my ethnographic fieldwork in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona, where such intersections are particularly recent, even ongoing, and where studying them as they happen provides unique opportunities for analysis.

Throughout this dissertation, I develop a series of arguments. First, I suggest that such intersections inform the ways in which Islamic organizations navigate the resulting circumstances—from pervasive suspicions and rumors to the increase in housing prices and multicultural policies in the neighborhood. In this manner, I suggest that support for—and opposition to—such organizations as well as the sectarianism stemming from it constitute—or at least depend upon—the responses to—and the outcome of—such circumstances.

Moreover, this dissertation focuses on the ways in which Islamic organizations seek support not only within mosques but also across settings such as homes, workplaces, and streets, since all of these venues are, of course, equally common areas of social interaction. To that end, I draw upon my ethnographic fieldwork accompanying research participants—male Pakistani and Bangladeshi labor migrants who pursue proselytizing for such organizations (referred to as dawah)—across such settings.

Thus, I next suggest that interactions between research participants and their countrymen across homes, workplaces, and streets reveal that these countrymen simultaneously support—or oppose—different (even competing) organizations, and therefore, that the assessment of sectarianism varies depending upon the settings where one focuses. For example, while mosques secure the boundaries of support to organizations, these boundaries often dilute outside of these settings.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

John Bowen

Committee Members

John Bowen, Tazeen Ali, Geoff Childs, Rebecca Lester,

Available for download on Wednesday, August 31, 2022