McDowell, Amy. 2014. “Warriors and Terrorists: Antagonism as Strategy in Christian Hardcore and Muslim ‘Taqwacore’ Punk Rock.” Qualitative Sociology. 37: 255-276. (Lead Article). A photograph from McDowell’s research is featured as the cover of this issue of Qualitative Sociology.
ABSTRACT: This article contributes to new scholarship in the sociological study of religion, which looks at how people define and communicate religion in secular spheres. I show how U.S. Christian Hardcore and Muslim “Taqwacore” (taqwa means “god consciousness” in Arabic) punks draw on the tools of a punk rock culture that is already encoded with its own set of symbols, rituals and styles to: 1) understand themselves as religious/punk and 2) express religion in punk rock environments. I find that both cases draw on a punk rock motif of antagonism—oppositional attitudes and violent rituals and symbols—to see themselves as religious/punk and express religion in punk in different ways. Christian punks use this motif to condemn other Christians for denouncing punk and create space for Protestant evangelical Christianity in punk. Taqwacores use this motif to criticize Islam for its conservatism as well as non-Muslims for stereotyping Muslims as religious fanatics. In the process, Taqwacores build a space for alienated brown youth who exist on the margins of mainstream American culture and traditional Islam.