The politics of diaspora and the morality of secularism: Muslim identities and Islamic authority in Mauritius


Department of Anthropology, Washington University, One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1114, St Louis, MO 63130-4899, USA.


Previous work on inter-ethnic coexistence in Mauritius has portrayed secularism as the only possible site of the national, which is at the same time described as clearly separated from religious traditions. In contrast, focusing on understandings of secularism among Mauritian Muslims in the context of a politics of diasporic ‘ancestral cultures’, this article analyses secularism as a field of morality which is inseparable from questions of religious reform and authenticity. The discussion of ethnographic material from Mauritius suggests that the opposition between secularity and religiosity should be treated as a productive tension rather than a liberal antinomy.