Purity, Soul Food, and Sunni Islam: Explorations at the Intersection of Consumption and Resistance

Abstract

Contemporary African American followers of Sunni Islam are self-consciously articulating a form of eating that they see as liberating them from the heritage of slavery, while also bringing them into conformity with Islamic notions of purity. In so doing, they participate in arguments about the meaning of “soul food,” the relation between “Western” materialism and “Eastern” spirituality, and bodily health and its relation to mental liberation. Debates within the African American Muslim community show us how an older anthropological concern with food taboos can be opened up to history and to the experience of the past reinterpreted in terms of the struggles of the present.

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