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Yafa Shanneik


This article discusses the conversion experiences as recalled by Irish women who converted to Islam during the so-called ‘Celtic-Tiger’ period—the years of Ireland’s dramatic economic boom and major socio-cultural transformations between 1995 and 2007. In this period, the increasing religious diversity of Irish society and the decline of the social authority of the Catholic Church facilitated the exploration of alternative religious and spiritual affiliations. Irish women converts to Islam are an example of the emergence of a post-Catholic subjectivity in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years. The women’s agency is illustrated through the choice of Islam as a religion and a cultural space different to Catholicism in order to gain status, power and control within the various religious and ethnic communities. This article is the first major study on conversion to Islam in Ireland during this period.

Yafa Shanneik

This article will look at the different conceptions of ‘home’ as narrated by Algerian Muslim women living in Ireland. It explores the dynamic processes of their self-identification(s) and their different forms of (re)creation of diasporic home(s) influenced by their religious, cultural, social and economic environment. I will use Thomas A. Tweed’s notion of ‘crossing and dwelling’ to analyse these essentialized identity constructions that become manifest in Tweed’s four ‘chronotopes’: the gendered body, the domestic home, the imagined homeland and the transnational and global cosmos. The conscious or unconscious negotiations and implications for belonging to a specific identity or community that can be observed among Algerian women in Ireland will be examined, together with the different pre- and post-migratory social, political and religious factors that influence such negotiations. This ethnographic study is the first of its kind and fills a gap in the study of Muslim migrants in Europe.


Yafa Shanneik and Marja Tiilikainen


In this chapter, the meaning and importance of material religion and culture for the formation of migrant women’s religious, cultural, ethnic and national identities in the diaspora will be investigated. The chapter will compare two groups of African Muslim women coming from Sudan and Somalia who migrated to two different European countries – Ireland and Finland respectively. The focus of the chapter lies in the investigation of the impact various material objects and symbols have on the women’s sense of belonging and self-understanding in a European context. The chapter will examine how Sudanese and Somali women create their private spaces within their houses through particular objects, symbols and artefacts in order to construct a ‘home’ for themselves in the diaspora.

Mapping Shia Muslim Communities in Europe

Local and Transnational Dimensions: An Introduction to the Special Issue

Yafa Shanneik, Chris Heinhold and Zahra Ali


This article provides an introduction to the special issue on Mapping Shia Muslim Communities in Europe.1 With six empirically rich case studies on Shia Muslim communities in various European countries, this issue intends: first, to illustrate the historical developments and emergence of the Shia presence in Europe; second, to highlight the local particularities of the various Shia communities within each nation state and demonstrate their transnational links; and third, to provide for the first time an empirical comparative study on the increasingly visible presence of Shia communities in Europe that fills an important gap in research on Muslims in Europe.