“O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz”: On the American Justice System and Islam

By Maureen Kelly.

Published by The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies

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In this paper I draw upon Michel Foucault, Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, and Saba Mahmood in the discussion of the Supreme Court case O'Lone V. Estate of Shabazz in order to address two points. First, I argue that this case demonstrates a Western understanding of religion as belief and discounts religious practice. Second, I suggest this definition of religion relates to the hegemony of the nation-state over the human body as the material object on which power can be exercised and subjectivity can be constituted. These two questions arise from this case through the discussion of the historical circumstances of discursive moments and their material effects. Of interest to me is the location of religion and the operation of power in a modern secular context. In particular, I hope to consider the questions of practice and the body as an intersection with questions of power and the modern nation-state.

Keywords: Islam, Law, Foucault, Discipline, W.F. Sullivan, Mahmood, Askesis, Religion, Prison

The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies, Volume 10, Issue 4, 2012, pp.99-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 128.889KB).

Maureen Kelly

Graduate Student, Religious Studies Department, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA

Maureen Kelly received a BA from Cornell University with majors in Art History and Religious Studies and a MA in Religious Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder.