AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies


Summary In this thesis I write about religious conversion to Christianity in Damascus, Syria. My main informants were from the Alawite sect and the Druze sect, both regarded as Muslim sects by the government. The main arguments throughout the thesis is that Alawite converts struggle more with their identity than their Druze counterparts because the Alawite construction of identity despite familiarity with Christianity and syncretistic background, does not seem to enable both identities. While on the other hand Druze construction of identity is what others call adhesive or inclusive, my Druze background converts still regard themselves as Druze, to them there is no contradiction between being Druze and being Christian. In chapter 5 I deal with how converts create narratives that constructs them as authentic Christians. Again, the Alawite converts are more concerned with being an authentic Christian because this is the identity they strive so hard to achieve. In a Muslim country where it is not possible to convert legally, the consequences are that converts have a hard time being accepted by other Christians as fully Christians . I look into these challenges and argue as Alawite converts do not accept an Islamic and Alawite identity, they are more concerned with the issues that brand their identity as Alawites and exclude them from the Christian community, such as religious teaching in School and burial practice. In chapter 6 I develop two models or strategies of conversion. The first strategy is that of the antagonist, this convert becomes very negative towards his previous belief or religious background. This convert seeks to exorcize everything from his past to become a pure member of the new faith. The other strategy is that of the pragmatic who does not think he has to lose his old identity to gain a new one. This convert finds ways in his cultural context to express his new faith. I also focus on the significance of the personal religious experience of the converts. I use the anthropologist Stromberg s theory of impression point to understand how the new world image is internalized. To Stromberg this happens through some kind of a merger between religious symbol and experience. I argue that the convert s religious experiences through impression point constitute their faith and convictions.