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Infidel Brands: Unveiling Alternative Meanings of Global Brands at the Nexus of Globalization, Consumer Culture, and Islamism

ELIF IZBERK-BILGIN
Religion and ideology are prominent forces shaping consumption. While consumer researchers have studied both topics considerably, examinations of religious ideology remain scant. Notably lacking is research on how religion, myths, and ideology intertwine in the marketplace, informing attitudes toward brands. This ethnography investigates how the religious ideology of Islamism informs brand meanings among low-income Turkish consumers and identifies three discourses that construct global brands as infidels. Informants use the infidel parable to characterize market societies as devoid of social equality, morality, and justice. Their critique culminates in a consumer jihad against global brands. Through the consumer jihad, informants accommodate and protest the social crises posed by modernity and globalization as they seek to recreate the Golden Age of Islam. Exploring the relationships among economic means, cultural capital, and religious ideology helps this study bridge related domains of research on religiosity, ideology, and brand meanings that are often investigated separately.

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nfidel! Infidel!” cries the six-year-old boy upon hearing his mother mention Nestle ´ during our interview. The father, who has just returned from evening prayer at the local mosque, tries to change the subject quickly. He appears to be acutely aware of the symbolic meaning of my unveiled attire and our likely ideological differences. Despite the proIslamist government’s renewal of power and the relaxed attitudes toward expressing religious identity in Turkey, the father avoids commenting on the “infidel” remark, carefully weighing his words to prevent an ideological clash. The mother, on the other hand, who volunteers as a Quran instructor for the shantytown’s young girls, could care less about political correctness. As passionate as her son, she

Elif Izberk-Bilgin (ebilgin@umd.umich.edu) is assistant professor of marketing, University of Michigan–Dearborn, Dearborn, MI 48126. The author is grateful to her dissertation chair, Cheryl Nakata, and thanks Aaron Ahuvia, Craig Thompson, Eric Arnould, Lisa Penaloza, and David Crockett for their valuable comments. The author also wishes to thank the editor, associate editor, and the three reviewers for their constructive and encouraging feedback. Mary Frances Luce served as editor and Søren Askegaard served as associate editor for this article. Electronically published May 21, 2012

believes that Nestle ´ , McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola are “infidels” because “they are killing Muslims in Palestine and now Iraq.” As the above excerpt from field notes demonstrates, transnational corporations’ associations with powerful nation states, coupled with their immense financial resources and cultural influence, tangle global brands in a complex web of sociopolitical dynamics, subjecting these brands to religiously charged interpretations such as “infidels.” The excerpt also speaks to the importance of religious ideology on consumer behavior. Religion and ideology intertwine in complex ways in the marketplace, often informing consumer identity and attitudes toward brands (Miller 2009; Pink 2009). This interaction is noticeable in less industrialized countries (LICs) where, in general, means of civic engagement are limited and political representation is uneven. Lack of access to resources and power, coupled with eroding faith in modern institutions, leaves some consumers seeking meaning in religious ideology to cope with growing resentment to daily socioeconomic problems (Thomas 2000). For instance, it has been argued that Islamism, which is defined as the rearticulation of Islamic teachings for ideological purposes (Denoeux 2002; Tibi 1983), finds a particularly fertile ground in LICs as a soothing rhetoric to locals’ discontent with the International Monetary Fund’s and World
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Bank’s influence on national matters, uneven economic globalization, political conflicts, and class hierarchies (Ahmed 2007; Ayoob 2008; Saktanber 1997; White 2002a). Scholars suggest that the Marxist undertones of Islamism have been fostering resentment to the ideals of “market society” (Slater and Tonkiss 2001) and a global consumer culture in these locales (Ahmed 2004), which often culminates in antagonistic attitudes to global brands. The vandalization of McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and HSBC bank stores in Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, and Palestine, where Islamism has been on the rise, represent telling examples of the important role religious ideology can play in the marketplace (Economist 2000; O’Keefe 2001; Smith 2003). Yet, in consumer research, there is little theorizing on how theological teachings and religious myths can provide compelling ideological resources, particularly for the disenfranchised and the poor, to contest hegemonic forces such as globalization, market, and state. This gap is of concern given that the poor represent the most adversely affected by globalization and the most likely to be susceptible to religious rhetoric (Bandarage 2004; Davis 2004; Kaplinsky 2005). Consumer research on Islamism has focused on veiling practices (Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger 2005) and the transformation of the veil from a sacred to a fashionable practice (Kılıc ¸ bay and Binark 2002; Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger 2010; White 2002b). Although outside the domain of consumer research there is a significant body of literature on Islamism (Ayoob 2008; Esposito 1983; Tibi 1983), the work on the link between Islamism and consumption is limited. Particularly in sociology and political science, Islamism has been interpreted as a critique of modernization, capitalism, and consumerism (Barber 1996; Huntington 1993, 1996; Ray 1993) and therefore has been characterized as an ideology with an antimarket, anticonsumerist, anti-Western ethos (Ahmed 2004; Gellner 1992; Turner 1994). As a result, there is a growing discourse on Islam, often focusing on the perceived threat Islam poses to Western values and ideals, including capitalism. However, little is known about how Islamist sentiments actually materialize in everyday life in transitional economies (for exceptions, see Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger [2005, 2010] on veiling practices). To redress this gap, I take a critical ethnographic approach to examine how Islamism informs consumption discourses and practices in the LIC context of Turkey. As a transitional country with a rising Islamist class, Turkey presents an ideal fieldwork site. By tracing the sociohistorical construction of the infidel brand, I explicate how consumers draw from religious myths, local ideological tensions, global events, and historical conflicts to construe global brands as ideological threats to Islam. The findings suggest that characterizing particular brands as a menace to the virtues of the ideal Islamic society, as inscribed in the Islamic myth of the Golden Age, propels informants to forge a “consumer jihad” against these antagonist brands. Although the notion of consumer jihad may appear consistent with conventional interpretations of Islamism as an anti-Western and antimarket ideology (Ahmed 2004; Gellner

1992; Huntington 1993, 1996; Ray 1993; Turner 1994), this study demonstrates that Islamism is not merely an antiWestern ideology by showing that the derogatory label of infidel includes not just global brands but also certain Turkish brands. The findings further suggest that Islamism is not an antimarket ideology, either. On the contrary, informants are firmly situated within the logics of the market since they seek to moralize the marketplace by embracing Islamized products as the antidote to the immorality, injustice, and inequality that infidel brands represent in their minds. As such, this research advances our understanding of the dialogical relationships among religion, ideology, and consumption by accounting for a complex ideoscape of religious ideology in consumer culture. By creating new “opportunity spaces” (Yavuz 2004), markets, and products while contesting existing ones, religious ideology works in consumer culture rather than against it. Highlighting these nuances allows this research to extend the research streams on ideology (Crockett and Wallendorf 2004; Hirschman 1993; Luedicke, Thompson, and Giesler 2010; Varman and Belk 2009) and religiosity (Kozinets and Handelman 2004; Kozinets and Sherry 2004; Mun ˜ iz and Schau 2005) in consumer research.

IDEOLOGY, RELIGION, AND CONSUMPTION
Despite repeated calls for a critical assessment of ideology in consumer research (Belk 1986; Fırat, Dholakia, and Bagozzi 1987; Hirschman 1993), scholars have only recently turned their attention to this important topic. These studies focused on the role of political (Crockett and Wallendorf 2004; Zhao and Belk 2008), nationalist (Varman and Belk 2009), technology (Kozinets 2008), and competing marketplace (Luedicke et al. 2010) ideologies in structuring consumer choice and identity works. In addition, ideology is also an overriding theme in studies investigating ethical consumerism and anticonsumerism, and critiques of corporate capitalism (Dobscha and Ozanne 2001; Holt 2002; Kozinets 2002; Kozinets and Handelman 2004; Thompson 2003; Thompson and Arsel 2004; Thompson and Coskuner-Balli 2007). Yet, these works do not address how religious ideology might influence consumption practices, discourses, and consumer identity work, pointing to an important theoretical gap. Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger’s (2010) notable study of veiling practices helps to bridge this gap. By tracing veiling practices, the authors demonstrate how religious beliefs intertwine with political tensions and historical structures to transform veiling from a stigmatized practice to a fashionable clothing choice. Other research either focuses on the commercialization of the sacred (O’Guinn and Belk 1989) or the sacralization of the profane (Kozinets and Sherry 2004; Mun ˜ iz and Schau 2005). Particularly the latter stream examines religion as a market-mediated experience. Studies of brand communities (Belk and Tumbat 2005; Kozinets 2001; Mun ˜ iz and O’Guinn 2001; Mun ˜ iz and Schau 2005), for example,

neoliberalism. Collectively. resulting in the recent housing bubble and the financial crisis (Rosin 2009). claim it” mentality. however. colonialism. Tibi 1983). By allowing Islamists to envision an impeccable and venerable future based on “readings of the fundamental scriptural texts” (Ayoob 2008. which only intensified after the 1967 Egyptian defeat.” ironically contributing to the economic impoverishment of LICs. As the ruling classes “failed to deliver on their promises of economic progress. and capitalism. The rise of Islamism cannot be understood in isolation from the dynamics of the Cold War and the subsequent wave of decolonization (Ayoob 2008. coupled with political dispositions. 7) as a religious ideology and as a significant discourse of identity for many disenfranchised consumers. economic. which generally plagues LICs. in many instances. Rodinson 1966. Stambach (2000) finds that evangelist missionaries played a key role in spreading the ideals of capitalism among Africans by encouraging them to wear “civilized” European clothing. most of these modernization projects failed. and economic turmoil. further weakening pious Muslims’ trust in Western developmental discourses. Gu ¨ lalp 1997. providing “a strong moral force and source of identity” (Moinuddin 1987. 2) and “reappropriated concepts borrowed from the Islamic tradition” (Denoeux 2002. The period is significant for ISLAMISM: A CONTEMPORARY RELIGIOUS IDEOLOGY It is important to distinguish Islamism from Islam.. who came to power (Bromley 1994). Bonsu and Belk (2010.g. it was the Western educated nationalists. that Islam assumes a “renewed role” (Tibi 1983. we need to examine its historic. this religious ideology offers a road map to an ideal social order that is believed to have existed during the Golden Age of Islam. political participation. Islamism in particular has been a recent influence. 61). Islamism involves the instrumentalization of the teachings and principles of Islam by individuals and organizations that seek social change. befitting postmodern times. changing not only the fac ¸ ade of the global marketplace (e. This mythical narrative refers to the time of the Prophet and the first four caliphs during 610–661 AD. Roy 1994. Iraq. and Turkey. Islam played a crucial role in colonized countries’ independence movements. and corruption (Thomas 2000). postcolonial modernization efforts ironically produced authoritarianism. not the Islamists. Esposito (1983) and Tibi (1983) argue that Islamism appropriates religious doctrines to justify militant and cultural resistance to modernization and Westernization. While these examples illustrate how religious ideology can be used to legitimate prominent ideologies and institutions. Esposito 1983. to understand how Islamism has become a potent force informing consumer choice. without Westernization—adoption of modern normative systems—(Habermas 1987. Nations with a prominent Muslim population experienced a sense of disgrace and loss of dignity. the postcolonial period inadvertently reinforced the appeal of Islamism for the masses. religious ideology is frequently interwoven with consumption. They could neither follow the same democratization trajectory as in Europe nor sustain the economic progress that the elites had promised. Rather. Macintosh. critics blame the prosperity gospel for propelling a “name it. Rather. Or consider the parallels among the rise of the evangelical prosperity doctrine. These ruling elites selectively adopted Western ideas and institutions to build democracies and achieve economic prosperity. a religion (Ayoob 2004. Tibi 1983). and economic globalization (Roberts 2002). and political roots first. religious teachings can be appropriated to construct powerful narratives to maintain or contest marketplace ideologies. the Pentecostals in Ghana view consumption as a threat to eternal salvation and use prayer to neutralize the “evil” in goods (Meyer 1998). and personal dignity” (Ayoob 2004. thereby serving as a mobilizing ideology (Ayoob 2004. and Star Trek brand communities. In the global North. Yet. bathing suits. . For example. 69). Following the independence movements (1918–62) in Egypt. modernization. Newton. 313) find that the prosperity gospel and its “earthly wealth” message have fueled consumerism in the Global South by posing consumption as “a salvation oriented religious tool. Because of this contextual emphasis. market-mediated practices of religion are illustrated in the spiritual experiences of members of Jeep. religiosity in consumer research is increasingly understood as a totemic expression of extreme brand loyalty. Similarly. Islamism provides an alternative model of social and economic governance. and class structures. the proliferation of Islamic mortgages. patrimonialism. THE ISLAMIST FANTASY: THE GOLDEN AGE OF ISLAM For those who have lost faith in secularist models of developmentalism. Esposito 1983. 3). marketplace ideologies. Denoeux (2002) points out that Islamism is a modern phenomenon that largely emerged as a reaction to colonization. Tibi 1983). It is in this conjuncture of “cultural anomie. Consider the ideological kinships among Christianity. and globalization. Such new. these failures triggered public resentment toward the merits of Western style modernization. religiosity includes adherence to a consumption object that has become a sacred totem in the eyes of loyal consumers.” political legitimacy crisis. The establishment of Israel in the Middle East fueled existing distrust in Western ideals as it was largely interpreted as a sign of Western imperialism.INFIDEL BRANDS 665 find that religiosity is not confined to faithfulness to a divine being. Yet. Yet religiosity permeates the marketplace in much more complex ways. other cases illuminate situations in which it may challenge dominant ideologies such as capitalism. In these and other ways. Tibi 1983). brand meanings. For example. and toys in the United States and Europe) but also production methods thanks to a booming halal industry (Power 2009). however. and identity. Algeria.

is the Islamist construal of “infidel brands” informed by the Golden Age myth? How might religiously charged mythical narratives shape consumers’ discourses and practices. has triggered resentment toward market ideology. a Muslim society that adopts Western ideals and drifts away from the Islamic norms is viewed as vulnerable to the imminent threat of returning to the dark days pre-Islam and. Sayyid Qutb. focuses on 15 informants with explicit Islamist dispositions (table 1). signaling the omnipotent threat of “falling from grace. Tibi (1983) notes that. the abolishment of the institution of the Caliphate stood out for bearing testimony to the staunchly secular nature of the Republican regime. Among the progressive Kemalist reforms (1922–37). overthrowing the existing political structures in predominantly Muslim nation-states and unifying them within an Islamic state a ` la the Ottoman Empire. Thus. Lapidus 1992. this article. The Caliph was not only the head of state in the Ottoman Empire but also the political and spiritual leader of the entire Muslim world. leading to a rapid influx of foreign brands. this reform symbolically marked the end of Islamic civilization. RESEARCH CONTEXT AND METHODOLOGY Research Site Background Turkey presents an excellent opportunity to examine Islamist discourses of global brands. the growing market criticism renders Turkey an appropriate context to investigate the social construction of infidel brands. Accordingly. may be infeasible in the political sense. Past research shows that mundane consumption practices embody diverse meanings (Holt 2002) and mythical narratives “enable consumers to dramatically enact their ideological beliefs” (Luedicke et al. Yet the symbolic significance of the Golden Age can only be understood in the backdrop of its ideological rival: the Age of Ignorance. and a growing middle class. Qutb describes them as a condition.” Noteworthy in Qutb’s writings is the way these mythical narratives are decontextualized and dehistoricized. “who remain rooted in reality and suspicious of millenarian movements” (Ayoob 2008. 2010. Known as the head scarf ban. While resurrecting the Golden Age. Scholars agree that Islamist movements seek to resurrect the Golden Age (Ayoob 2004. secularism is primarily understood as a ban on religious dress codes in public institutions. By spreading the “light and knowledge” of Islam. Research Design This ethnography draws from participant observation. any place (Ayoob 2008). however. as individuals from various strata have recently been drawn to this ideology. privatization of state-controlled media. Wong 2007). Roy 1994). 3). while primitivist. Dabashi 2005. many individuals filed bankruptcy. Lacking knowledge about interest rates. attracting strong criticism from Muslims throughout the world and triggering tensions between the seculars and the Islamists in Turkey. then. that is. and currency fluctuations. faced jail time. the transition to a market economy was difficult. the ferociously debated policy is the symbolic center of contemporary tensions between the secular. while informing their quest for a nuanced social order alternative to the one that the market society offers? And to what extent is contesting infidel brands an endeavor to negotiate Golden Age values with capitalism? The present study attends to these questions by unpacking Turkish-Islamists’ articulations of infidel brands in light of key social structures and historical circumstances. Combined with the rise of Islamist sentiments. I collected the data over 3 months of fieldwork. Secularism was most notably instituted through top-down reforms (aka Kemalist reforms after the founder Kemal Atatu ¨ rk) that included the annulment of religious shrines and the centralization of religious education. Particularly absent in discussions on Islamism is how ordinary Islamists may pursue the Golden Age myth through consumption. This. a radical ideologue who views Islam as a political and social system. but they also find this mission futile. performing this mythical narrative in the marketplace can be quite possible. marketplace articulations of Islam are scarcely explored (Rudnyckyj 2009. in turn. The Turkish Republic was established in 1923 as a secular nation upon the dissolution of the Sharia-governed Ottoman Empire. corruption. 1017). indepth interviews. To what extent. plagued with debauchery. or committed suicide (Aysan and Yıldız 2007). the Golden Age utopia has been instrumental for Islamists in mending colonial wounds as well as dealing with sectarian violence. 2008. this narrative depicts the preIslamic Arab culture as pagan and barbarian.666 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH believers because it represents the onset of peace in a wartorn Arab region with the unification of fractioned tribes under Mohammad’s leadership (Lapidus 1992). and archival analysis. The rise of Islamism is also closely tied to the liberali¨ nis zation of the Turkish economy (O ¸ 1997). Denoeux 2002. has to be saved by emulating Golden Age practices. arguing that the Golden Age mythos does not appeal to the majority of Muslims. Although many Muslims realize that the Golden Age represents a historical time that is unattainable in the present or future. proWestern elites and the ruling pro-Islamist AKP’s (Justice and Development Party) constituencies. Mohammed is believed to have ended this “fallen state” of mankind and to have founded a dignified life for Muslims. The neoliberal policies of 1980s “opened” the country to world markets. credit cards. Today. field notes. that can exist at any time. Although there is considerable work on political Islam. therefore. rather than historical periods. and promiscuousness. However. Also known as Jahiliyyah. argues that deviating from Islamic principles would drag the Muslim community into a state of ignorance. I also visited Turkey for another 6 weeks to observe changes in Islamists attitudes preceding . Participants include 45 individuals from diverse backgrounds. This interest is rather intriguing in a nation that is eagerly seeking European Union membership and has been founded on Western principles of secularism and modernism.

Ahmet ¨ beydullah U *Vasfiye. I then set up the interviews.INFIDEL BRANDS TABLE 1 INFORMANT CHARACTERISTICS Pseudonym Fehmiye *Hanife. ISLAMIST DISCOURSES OF GLOBAL BRANDS Modesty Modesty refers to exercising moderation and humility in Muslim conduct. I have time to do my prayers. Like other informants. Indeed. Hanife’s family sold their TV more than a decade ago. as illustrated below in Hanife’s remarks. Ambarlıdere. . This gives me more time to dedicate myself to Allah. High school BA Middle school. The participants served as gatekeepers and. Night guard High school teacher Maid. I had easier access to these women. Middle school BA/MA High school NOTE. . and lifestyles. Ulver-Sneistrup. To make more time for their prayers. seek to minimize their participation in consumer culture. High school Middle school. The data were analyzed following the procedures described in Arnould and Wallendorf (1994). Now my husband brings me everything I need. The informants resided in Ku ¨c ¸u ¨ kko ¨ y. Mechanic Qur’an instructor. who generally live in closeknit communities. To establish rapport. Gu ¨ lalp 1997). I took extensive field notes to capture informants’ comments. Imam Housewife Housewife Unemployed Housewife. In those cases. once they approved of the study. Islamism is perhaps best reflected in consumers’ apparel choice in modern Turkey. the religious ideology and rhetoric underlying informants’ accounts set them apart from the former: I used to enjoy window shopping. thus. The data were collected at informants’ homes and during shopping trips. I use “Islamist” as an etic term to refer to anyone who identifies with “an alternative Islamic life politics and new social order” (Saktanber 2002. and share the beauty of Islam with others. M M F Occupation Housewife Housewife and self-identified Qur’an instructor. A key religious duty for Hanife is holding Quran studies. in some cases. These gatherings are indeed important events for shantytown women as a collective practice through which “God’s word” is interpreted in light of modern day issues to construct a con- . Askegaard. where Western attire is the adopted norm. I asked individuals from my social networks to introduce me to women they know who wore chador. While these sentiments are reminiscent of the high-minded consumer moralism often observed in developed countries (Elgin 1981. Islamists suspiciously view outsiders as potential unsympathetic secularists who might “tarnish Islam” by exposing them to the secular media. such as observing modest dress codes and demonstrating humbleness through austere consumption practices. allowed access to their husbands and other family members. as reflected in the fieldwork. Doorman High school teacher Unemployed Education 667 Elementary Elementary. informants perceive consumption as contaminating one’s soul and. . Abdullah Mens ¸ ure Saliha Sevginur *Ulviye. where they settled upon migrating from rural Anatolia. High school Elementary High school BA Elementary. allowing for triangulation between informants’ discourses and practices. as well as avoiding makeup and heels. he buys the groceries and even fabric and I sew pants and dresses for all of us! [cheerfully] . I also reviewed Islamist newspapers for a holistic view of the discourses informing Islamist sentiments. . I’ve come to realize that those things are so meaningless and such a waste of time. forgoing the recording of interviews or taking photographs as some participants perceived those as religiously unacceptable. Despite a congenial government. The classification of participants as Islamist was ultimately based on their life politics. I took pictures of informants’ home de ´ cors and belongings for a rich perspective of Islamist lifestyles and tastes. hold sohbets [Quran studies]. Popular Islamic beliefs praise the moral superiority of avoiding material ostentation (Arnould 1989. and C ¸ eliktepe. M F F F F. and Kristensen 2011). which often stigmatizes Islamists. 257). consumption practices. I sought out women who wear chador—a black garment that covers the entire body except the eyes—because they are among the most visible public displays of Islamism. M M F. Dursun Vedat Yasemin Age 35 40–43 42–45 39 36 27 36–41 43 43–47 41 29 Gender F F. AKP’s electoral victory in 2007. These key individuals established the initial contacts with the informants.—Married couples are indicated with an asterisk. although I did not cover my hair. As a female. In the analysis. the squatter neighborhoods of Istanbul. I made my presence more acceptable by being respectful of Muslim dress codes and mannerism by wearing loose and long clothing. and any relevant contextual information. body language. Armutlu. . Being acceptable also meant. Hanife seeks spiritual refinement by refraining from material indulgences and even the practice of shopping. Hacı *Perihan. The identification of informants was initially driven by their distinctive physical appearance. while the use of “informant” denotes ethnographic data. M F.

when they see showy things on others. she reasons. 1. Instead of self-interested acts of showy consumerism. . comments on the tug of war played through pant. they view Western consumption patterns as a deviation from the Islamic norm. . the poverty our people face today. well. civ¨ stu ilized identity (Belk. Saliha associates global brand consumption and the socioeconomic problems in Turkey with secular ideology. but not before we attend to those in need first. which. Otherwise. . I sometimes tell myself not to blame the kids because . being a conscientious Muslim means upholding the Islamic principles that praise modest demeanor. social rivalry. . everything is because of this consumption craze. Global brands are essential to enacting a “Western Lifestyle myth. guards the believer against the perils of consumerism (table 2. which play a significant role in characterizing consumerism as a godless ideology that impoverishes the spirituality of believers and erodes the communal nature of early Islamic societies (Caner 2007. . but some of us have a hard time controlling it. all the marital and social problems. You just can’t make others envy what you got. At a weekly gathering. Her remarks reveal the dark side of Turkey’s recent experience with consumer culture and resonate deeply with the women attending the Quran study. For example. Alluding to pro-seculars’ Western-style consumerism. . these gatherings serve as platforms where Islamist consciousness. Perihan shares how one family’s mounting credit card debt led to a downward spiral of depression. Because it does not recognize Allah. . But they don’t stop to think that it’s because of their high-society style consumerism and the Polos and the Nikes they’re so obsessed with! Perihan’s comments reflect the parallels that many informants draw between consumption and tragic outcomes. raising children according to Islamic principles. as evinced in Saliha’s remarks: And why would a true Muslim buy more than she needs? To make others envy what she has? . Rolex and Jeeps” inflicts jealousy and bitterness on others. Saliha believes that consumption is a “trap. to discerning the brands that Islamists should purchase. It’s a culture that says ‘I consume therefore I am. Nefs is a test of our will. We all possess nefs. Covering a range of issues from finding a “true” Muslim spouse.” The growing mimicking of . . is manifest in increased occurrences of petty theft. While many middle-income consumers embrace consuming transnational brands to construct a modern. For example. . as she ties credit cards and women’s weaknesses for alluring consumer goods to the growing media expose ´ s of divorce. That’s what good Muslims with a clean spirit do [help the needy]. Gu ¨ rdog ˘ an (2011) writes: “Secular culture is about one’s breaking off all his connections with Allah. this “modern Turk” image is rather contested by the informants. she urges the attendees to fight against their nefs. as these are not only the most conspicuous symbols of a lavish lifestyle but also the primary means through which class distinctions are forged in LICs like Turkey (Dong and Tian 2009. Gu ¨ rdog ˘ an 2008). and crime: All these social ills. U “show(ing) off with Tommy. alcoholism. which. the broken families. and self-interest. Global brands are at the center of the informants’ critique of consumerism. . fostering envy.’ Against this. or what it means to be a “true” Muslim. For example.” an idealized Turkish view of “middle-class consumption in ¨ stu the West. and Askegaard 2003. .1). we continue to ponder what kind of a society we’ve become like those secular intellectuals on TV forums discussing where all this pocket picking and car snatching came from. Also in these gatherings. that’s torture! temporary Islamist way of life. 46).668 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH The school uniform is mandatory but students find a way to show off with Tommy [Hilfiger] shoes and backpacks. anything is legitimate in the name of winning and more profits. the most visible form of expressing “a partic¨ stu ular modernist ideal of being Turkish” (U ¨ ner and Holt 2007. according to Saliha. U ¨ ner and Holt 2010). . Bug ˘ z is an important concept for the pious. . whether it’s decent clothing or house. . Of course God wants to see the blessings he’s bestowed on us. as such. 52) and. Ger. consumerism is often identified as the underlying cause of numerous social problems. Lacking the economic and cultural capital to participate in this identity project. The ill of nefs causes the credit card debt.” against which her family is protected by their faith. is socially constructed (Saktanber 2002. Ger and Belk 1996). if it weren’t for such a test. Such protective claims over the brotherhood of faith are consistent with Tonnies’s (1957) Gemeinschaft notion and are an overriding theme across informant comments. substance abuse. what would be the meaning of our faith? This comment suggests that pretentiously consuming global brands poses a more serious problem than mere deviance from modesty. White 2002a). leading to social rivalry among the believers. Such inferences are frequently made in the Islamist media. these people don’t know anything about what our faith says on bug ˘ z [jealousy and hatred]. . You’re not considered modern unless you use-andthrow-away. being a “true” Muslim involves practicing modesty and benevolence. U brands as individuals compete for status: ¨ beydullah’s concern about social dissoSaliha echoes U lution within the Muslim community as she identifies the indulgence of some segments of society in “high-style consumerism” as a trigger of social conflict. our most powerful weapon is tasavvuf culture [Islamic mysticism]. One partici¨ beydullah. Indeed. devising tactics to deal with the head scarf ban at universities. and domestic violence. she suggests. particularly the US” (U ¨ ner and Holt 2010. Especially some women are very weak. the temptation to give in to temporal desires. Today’s culture is a disposable culture. they ask of their husbands things that they can’t afford. The most important thing is enriching our inner worlds. . in turn. Obviously. it represents ill will and weakening of the affectionate ¨ beydullah believes that ties in the Muslim community. we can’t really blame the kids when the parents are flaunting their Rolex watches and Jeeps all the time! I don’t understand how people can do that [show off] when there’s so much misery around.

thus. According to Kister (1965).. We come from a waqf culture that provides housing even for birds [referring to the Ottoman architectural tradition of building bird houses]. the condescending way Mens ¸ure speaks of fellow Muslims who wear brand name head scarves illustrates the competing claims of these two groups to speak in the name of Islam and the ongoing ideological clashes among the Islamists: What are those tags of Pierre Cardin. people are so self-centered.000 ring that the first lady has reportedly purchased. Anecdotes of him fetching water. . possessing sufficient economic capital and familiarity with global brands. Back then no one was left alone! But today. . Seen from this cultural perspective. profit-driven global marketplace is a stark contrast to the “Medina Market. . rising consumerism among the Islamist bourgeoisie represents a detour from the altruistic norms of the first. they clash with the less affluent Islamists who accuse them of falsely representing Islam. describing how he lived in poverty and shared everything he had with the needy. heralding a moral crisis. . they’re mischief makers. Referring to the $65. and Gucci supposed to mean displayed like flags on the veils of these young women? It seems like they find every excuse to invent new ways of tying their scarves just to showcase these brands. and sink into the filth of self-indulgence? How can they live like this when their brothers in faith starve? . or religiously permissible and forbidden. urban Islamists. . Burberry. As Vedat laments on small. and even cleaning and cooking are interpreted more broadly than simple gestures of humility to symbolize a reign of solidarity. Mohammed considered the market a charitable endowment and ensured that no trader would have to pay rent or tax. guided by a higher purpose to secure collective well-being. thus empowering them to deal with the harsh everyday realities of squatter life. and satirically asks: “Imagine that you just donned the has ¸ema [Islamic bathing suit]. For some. Herme ` s. There is anger and sorrow in Mens ¸ure’s tone as she reluctantly acknowledges the fragmentations within the Muslim community. While . informants like Mens ¸ure seek solace in a soothing reflection of the Ottoman past.7) what he envisions for the economic well-being and happiness of “our people. tending the animals. Turkey has recently witnessed the rise of a new class of wealthy. In the following statement. The legacy of the “lost community” motivates informants to imagine a simpler time defined by common mores and strong reciprocal ties. has traditionally guided Muslims’ dietary restrictions (e. 1. as Vedat describes (table 2. This self-criticism is reflected in the following quotations from Tas ¸getiren and Eygi. and at that moment. seemingly. halal was not a prominent force in shaping marketplace offerings in Turkey until the Islamist revivalism of the 1980s. traders were not allowed to claim a permanent stall or obstruct others’ visibility by pitching tents to secure equal trading opportunity for everyone. how are you supposed to enjoy the pool? . you know? Even the ones that I thought I knew. plunge into a morass of luxury. to our values. . For example.INFIDEL BRANDS 669 I don’t know what happened to us. They should know better that this is not how a conscientious Muslim would behave. the misery of the tyrannized do you feel in your heart?” Eygi (2008) expresses a similar view as he criticizes the pro-Islamist AKP leaders. As the newly rich Islamists. Islamist columnists. Despite a predominantly Muslim population. he hints at the conflict between Russia and Chechnya. Mens ¸ure nostalgically reflects on the Ottoman “waqf ” system (Islamic network of religious charities) that sustained these communal ties and a “caring” community.” These comments resonate well with the shantytown informants. Today’s highly competitive. he writes: “There are 10 million unemployed in this country. Such vivid imaginations of an untainted time closely inform informants’ vision of Turkish society. In the face of disappearing traditions and disintegrating social networks. Never mind the faithless [seculars]. As Tas ¸getiren (1996) bashes the new vacationing habit of some Islamists. . Informants often use the present tense as they narrate these stories as if they have witnessed the unfolding of these events. They’re always like “look at me! Look what I’ve got!” Western lifestyles among some wealthy Muslims is. the modesty ethos is a social norm that would impel Turkish society in the desired direction. . Those who live in luxury and excessively indulge are not exemplary Muslims. The belief that modernism destroys the communal ties of organic and authentic communities is an overriding motif in the interviews. Informants elaborate upon Mohammed’s benevolence and modest demeanor. which Mohammed founded in Medina. original Muslim community. . you hear the voice of a Chechnyan mujahidin asking for a bullet. Most evident in the growing interest in the fashionable veil (Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger 2010). Verses from the Quran and hadiths are also frequently recited to illustrate exemplary conduct during Mohammed’s time. . . . it’s all about .” which is. Central to these stories is the care Mohammed showed to emphasize that he shares the same social status with all in his flock.” it becomes clear that this mythic market represents Vedat’s aspirations toward an intact Muslim community.” he refers to a tax and rent-free marketplace. How much of the pain of starving Muslims. consuming pork and alcohol is not allowed). . local businesses being replaced by retailers with European names and suggests “returning to our roots. alarming for Islamists. seek to construct a lifestyle that blends Islam and Western style consumerism (Ahuvia 2005). but is it acceptable that those who claim to be pious are wasteful. This exemplary past allows informants to imagine a more livable future. . These people comfortably engage in status consumption (Ergu 2009) and acquire modern practices.g. Other informants draw from an even more distant past that they animate through stories about Prophet’s life and legacy. Halal-Haram The criteria of halal and haram. . in order to offset the tribal and economic barriers that the powerful non-Muslim guilds forced on Muslim tradesmen.

And we greatest supporter. But then cast in this play. It’s a trap that makes [American] Republican aims.” People foolishly think that there is no panies perceived to be pro-secumore an economic crisis. . . She mentioned the Nestea commercials with half-naked teenagers kissing on the beach. they’re the at street corners. can you trust them? ized that it’s just postponed thanks to all the credit cards [critically].1 The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are European and American culture and their we eat and drink has to be halal actually information wars. isn’t that the greatest sin of all? 670 1. 2. She said she was offended. You never belongs to is a monopoly that is dangerremember what our Prophet (saw) said: “If a know. yield to your nefs. . I don’t shop at reif what we’re seeing or hearing is real beyou were to fall prey to temptations and. He throws the cup away immediately and reminds everyone present that the Prophet forbade believers to eat and drink from gold cups and wear silk. but they don’t reallar]. The story about Huzeyfe (?) that Vedat told today might be a hadith.2 Stores are designed to sell more. . and spirituality of the sahabe [first converts]. we. jumping Global brands fit this scenario as long as from the bridge [Bosphorus] because they they funnel their exorbitant profits to can’t pay their debt. . We don’t know products. and added that most young women lacked the virtues. but we need to [pro-Islamist brands]. selves on fire in front of everyone. subway stations.2 Ariel [P&G detergent]. whereas only believers would have these in the afterlife. And this play is about we hear about those people setting themthe money and global powers’ interests. But it’ll eventually hit us. Nowadays ages. Global brands are credit card applications are even handed out where. Huzeyfe wants water and his water arrives in a gold cup. Everything 3. as a society. Modesty 1.2 We didn’t buy salami or sausage 3. Al-Jazeera took forbid. for sure. We’re going before Aytac and Ikbal came along ports the war. Vedat adds that the Prophet said infidels used these luxury goods in this world. What we need to do is to think about how a real Muslim should live. like Hanife. wouldn’t be in this mess. If more people were to control their nefs. We were talking about Islam as a religion that encourages spiritual refinement and he gave an example from this Huzeyfe character. however.1 Consumption is a trap meant to addict us to 2. desire to have two. the other Sabancı [local comtance. sold their TV when private stations emerged. . One belongs to with mercy to him who turns to Him in repenKoc ¸ . involved in the same game. you fail the test of nefs and take your own life. Once there’s alcohol sometheir [CNN’s] mask off. She complained about the “loose” behavior among youth. but I don’t 2. . we wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with. It’s Evangelicals’ son of man had a valley full of gold. Allah turns brands] before. It’s a trap that would swallow you if and clean. he would have horse meat in them. supwant to fall prey to such things.TABLE 2 SELECTED INFORMANT STATEMENTS AND FIELD NOTES Halal-haram Tyranny Field notes 1. Nothing can fill his mouth only had Pinar and Maret [local except the earth (of the grave).1 Our compass is Allah. for example. If we lived to the principles like a true Muslim. She said she was most concerned about liberal programming in Kral TV and commercials with inappropriate materials. Perihan mentioned that they too. piety. god tailers that carry alcoholic bevercause it’s CNN’s reality. we even heard that others ous to world peace. nothing remains halal there. The corporate group Ariel to meet our needs.

he’s too young to understand. He tells a story about the Prophet finding nothing but dry bread and vinegar at home one day and mixing those to feed himself. but to force us into debt. People down was M and it looked a lot use brands in a wrong way. as they would do with everything else. there is also nefs. We try to educate him. in this manner too.1. Haci says that the imam also recommended those attending the sermon to follow the Sunna. traditional wedding ceremonies they used to have in his village. 4. to stand out like that. He complains that everybody is in a competition today to show their wealth.4 The first letter our son wrote what we need. 3.3 Bir lokma. I won’t deal with anyone who offends Muslims. He wants to dump his outdated products that way and enslave us to paying installments for a life time. but the profit margin is incredibly high. I see Muslim and consumption as a paradox. He goes into the details of the old. bir hirka [getting by with very little] is our philosophy. When McDonald’s commercials are everywhere. though.5 There’s nothing for us in those fast food restaurants. But turns out he wasn’t here to help us improve our education system or help with our development. when we forget about these things. 671 2. the proceeds go to armament. he mentions the dollar bills guests were showering on the wedded couple. We can’t trust them to uphold our Islamic values. 3. speaking so loud. He says it’s concerning that nobody thinks about the needy when they have money to waste like this. the more it infiltrates into our lives. In passing. Our prophet (saw) said it so well when he said that nefs is our greatest enemy. Because that is waste. Hanife’s husband. We get further away from our true selves and our true culture. But humans aren’t just body and soul. We don’t go there here though.3 I don’t prefer Koc ¸ [local pro-secular company].4 Max Factor is one of those who offend Muslims.5 Let me give you an example. He adds that the Prophet was a trader but lived in poverty because he’d share everything he had with the people. They’re showing me the ¨ beydullah tells me how he’s not pictures. I have antipathy to all cosmetics products anyway. I wonder if he’d be able to hear us.4 Our faith forbids us to consume more than 2. That’s economic zulm [tyranny] indeed. Haci touts the strong economy of the Ottoman Empire and reasons that the Ottomans created an undefeatable empire and a strong economy because they followed the example set forward by Islam Caliphates like the Abbasids. people use upset.5 Consumption isn’t a part of our culture but the more we become Westernized. but good thing. Bill Gates came to Turkey to promote this campaign. 1. I find consumption culture a bit offending human dignity. U wedding recently. Microsoft began a promotion for teachers recently. That’s not a teach him that it isn’t halal. I was really a certificate of trust or reliability. summarizes the Friday sermon to us while we’re sipping our teas. and bread and water to live. only following the example of Mohammed can save the people and the country from the “debt disgrace” that we’re in. Then. 3. Haci. 2. U fond of today’s weddings. 1. But you had to open a credit card at Vakıf Bank. a piece of cloth to cover himself. Accordingly. Instead of being like McDonald’s logo. He says that the imam warned people about credit cards and getting into debt by spending beyond their means. . They’re one of those products where the cost is really minimal. ¨ beydullah and his family were invited to a 3. Once the Prophet declared to those who asked him why he lived in scarcity that a man needed nothing but a shelter. brands to distinguish their status.3 We ate at KFC when we were visiting Saudi Arabia. it reduces us to the carnal: a body. It’s ok to have the necessities but we don’t have anything to do with the “what can I buy new today?” mentality. he mentions that the hosts are “good Muslims” so he’s surprised that they’d have such an ostentatious wedding.

6 Nestle. Who can pad brand Orkid is haram] Don’t blame them? How could they withstand the you know how they produce Orcompetition when everybody is so interested kid? They make those pads out of in buying foreign brands? How can they comwheat so that it absorbs better.9 I stay away from anything that is going to offend my faith. because they stream their profits to oppress the poor Muslims in Iraq.6 God bless you that you’re veiled. Pizza Hut. but sold it after private stations mushroomed. Why would you tempt the poor’s nefs? 3. My criterion. well. . when I shop. They don’t ask for these things ever again.10 I tell my kids that the owners of McDonald’s. I think would you have a Pierre Cardin or Aker [local they impose incredulity and that’s headscarf brand] tag showing on your shoulall. 3. We stay away from these brands. we wouldn’t be in this situation today. and there are those who can’t afford it. God’s blessing? They are literally We say we have poverty. There’s something called kul hakki [Muslims’ responsibilities to other Muslims]. there! The only thing that is going to help with the welfare and happiness of our people is going back to our roots. Muslim media has been exposing these. Coca-Cola. 3.6 Disney and Hollywood. We also heard that Sana [margarine brand by Unilever] has been supporting the war. 1. if it weren’t any truth to the news. 3. That’s the value they der? There are people who have the means. no surprise forcing Muslims to sin. But we bought a new one recently after we heard from friends about the valuable. particularly Nestle and American brands. pete when foreign companies are given so Out of wheat!!! [with anger] How many incentives and advantages thanks to could they expect us to sit on some group’s obsession with the West.7 I won’t let Nestle products into our home. Tyranny Field notes Modesty 1. is not the brand name but where its proceedings go. and all those other infidel brands aren’t Muslim and that we don’t know what they do with our money. and Fanta collaborate with Jews and kill Palestinians. represent.TABLE 2 (Continued ) Halal-haram 3. . what kind of causes they use their profits. We didn’t have a TV for a long time. . these brands would sue them. We had it earlier. KFC. educational programs on Muslim channels.7 Local businesses are either bankrupt or 2. But why 2. I ask if they’d like our money to be used to kill our Muslim siblings in other countries. If we had kept the Medina market tradition.7 [Explaining why P&G’s sanitary taken over by foreign companies.8 We don’t buy Arc ¸ elik [consumer electronics brand by Koc ¸ ] even though we know of and trust its high quality. .

the “independent and accomplished” woman image that many global cosmetic companies proudly portray in their commercials is at odds with the sacred role that Islam assigns to women as “virtuous Mumina. it also represents an extended understanding of halal to include cosmetics. . parallel to the way cosmetic brands do. . and Arsel 2006). that you’d uphold the legacy of Hatice and Ays ¸e [Prophet’s wives]. it is the size of a real baby. . . With her overt sexuality. Just like the Tin verse [Quran. Crockett. no. Such witty arguments not only reveal the discrepancy between Islamist discourse and practice but also provide informants with a religious rationale to abstain from using global brands. . and you wouldn’t concern yourself with anything but inner beauty. These ideological conflicts between competing notions of womanhood are further revealed in the informants’ perception of another global brand. Barbie. change her. just look at yourself! You don’t need any makeup to look nice to your husband. it’s a commitment for life. she pragmatically adds: Allah has created you with such diligent care. and become a mother. and even toys. . It means that you’ve got responsibilities . and Lanco ˆ me. 281) and the symbol of u ¨ berconsumer (Motz 1983). Advocating a similar view. These competing offers present excellent examples of Islamists’ extended understanding of haram and their endeavor to carve out a lifestyle space through ideological consumption (Bernthal. . and a wife before I’m anything else. Saliha’s comments illustrate the perceived moralistic threat Barbie poses: I don’t consider Barbie a toy to begin with. which frequently appear on Islamist boycott lists (appendix A): No. Thanks to Elif doll she’s even learned to say the Fatiha [Quran. Being a Mumina isn’t an either-or position. verse 1]. . . Those are the real infidels! They tempt honorable women to be bad women [prostitutes]. offering a diverse spread from alcohol-free perfumes to gender-segregated luxury resorts (Pink 2009). Informants’ disapproving views of global cosmetics brands are particularly illustrative of this new conceptualization. keeping up one’s appearance is quite challenging in the absence of acceptable products. The Islamist solution to these contesting ideologies that they believe are embodied in global brands is to produce their doppelga ¨ ngers (Thompson. The following reveals Saliha’s enthusiasm for this doll: It is nothing like the Barbie. . I ask Hanife what she thinks of Max Factor. Rindfleisch. For example. Barbie represents a poor role model for young Muslim girls as she has no apparent parents or children—lacking the traditional domestic skills as a caregiver. . no?” Ulviye goes a step further and suggests that simply using these brands would render one an infidel because dressing up and putting on makeup to attract others’ attention could only be an infidel’s act. For example. I’m a Mumina. . you’re beautiful as it is. Although local alternatives exist. Similarly.” represented by Prophet’s wives. For example. Considering the difficulty of finding halal products. comes with her pacifier. . They’re disrespecting the nature that Allah has bestowed on us! Allah created us. More problematically. What could a Barbie teach to my little girl? To dress in a tempting way. Little do these women [with makeup] know that they’re committing sin . It isn’t something a Muslim would do. board games like Garden of Paradise and Silk Road are reinvented versions of Monopoly. and flirt with boys when she grows up? That isn’t the kind of woman image I’d like her to have. My daughter learns to feed her. . a mother. thus. Although respondents hold that women should avoid makeup not to attract male gazes. stocks up on Nivea products when she pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia (where halal manufacturing is mandatory). Vasfiye suggests that “Muslims should boycott these brands” because “these intend to distract us from our duties that our faith assigns us. . Barbie has been critically described as the “icon of late capitalist constructions of femininity” (Urla and Swedlund 1995. the local Nivea distributor.INFIDEL BRANDS 673 the revivalist discourse is a response to industrialization and the resulting alienation of consumers from producers (Izberk-Bilgin. put on makeup. . Indeed. they agree that one should “look nice” to her husband as this might keep the men at home. In contrast to the flirtatious Barbie. Don’t you see how seductively the models in the ads look with their painted faces and bare legs? Other respondents demonstrate similar attitudes. and is dressed in long and loose garments. . Allah has created all of us in the most beautiful form. and really cries. They utilize a gyroscope instead of dice that are symbolic of gambling (haram) and allow players to earn the right to “go to heaven” by answering questions with religious undertones such as ¨ beydullah “Who is an infidel?” or “Where is Mecca?” U fondly talks about how this game allows him to pass down his values to his children: Today’s kids aren’t happy with makeshift toys and there aren’t too many games you can play together with the family. movies. offering parents the opportunity to teach their girls Islamist virtues. Notable examples include the Muslim Barbie and Muslim colas (Parmar 2004). reads Quran verses. . . . . informants hold that Barbie commoditizes the female body. . adds lard to the formula and. However. . retailers. because they’re disrespecting the blessed duties Allah has assigned us. forthcoming). As these comments reveal. . Informants frown upon many of the Western cosmetics that became widely available in Turkey post-1980s. they too are not regarded as halal since informants remain distrustful of secular companies. she sings hymns. and Rose 2005). Hanife suspects that Eczacıbas ¸ı. verse 95] says. the demand for these alternative products has given significant momentum to the emergence of a global Islamic consumptionscape. you’d be a good example to your children. . the Elif doll is perceived as a superior role model to Western alternatives. not those. L’Ore ´ al. .

146). like performing the ritual prayers or being virtuous instead of chasing after more money. on the weekends. The emphasis on Islamic heritage renders these products acceptable substitutes to Disney. “Christian propaganda”: [Disney movies] . Dabashi 2008). as infidels. Consider the comments of U spectively: This isn’t a secret. Ayoob 2008. our lives. a pig! the Iraq war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. and our past in those films . . The following quote from Dilipak (2010) illustrates the bitterness conjured up in the Islamist collective memory as he calls to the Western countries: “Confess the truth. as well as the cultural degradation of Islam in Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and Danish cartoons. It helps teach kids the right behaviors. thus. In Islamist cultural memory. Today. and the yellow race. . thereby undermining Islamic culture and history. . Titles like “Mecca’s Houses. . and gender-based ideologies by constructing antagonistic brands as infidels. As Mens ¸ure’s comments illustrate. Fueling this perception. This isn’t something that Bush and a couple of his people created alone. You can’t do anything against their will or interests. and not only in Baghdad. global brands are perceived as discreetly instilling Western views (Askegaard and Csaba 2000. What about Fatih [Ottoman Sultan known for Constantinople’s conquest] or all the Islamic scholars and their wonderful stories? It’s all about the silly adventures of a pig [referring to the Piglet character in Winnie the Pooh].674 I heard about Garden of Paradise. the halal-haram rhetoric also renders some infidel products acceptable.” and “Prophet’s Friends in 365 Days” give away the religious focus in these books and movies. and rob people out of their natural resources. enabling informants to negotiate their propensity to global offerings with the Islamic coke or monopoly (Pink 2009). One way of helping one another is to boycott the brands that have become the symbols of globalization and donate a part of their profits to the Israeli army” (Vakit 2009). . or in Mens ¸ure’s words. to the Iraq War. . everybody knows this. Informants strongly believe that multinational corporations (MNCs) financially support the war and Israel’s interests in the Middle ¨ beydullah and Vedat. what peace. informants feel disempowered and subjugated vis-a ` -vis global brands. as if we’ve no heroes and no good stories to tell our children. participants construe these powerful icons of consumer culture as the new agents of Western oppression. Adopting an extended understanding of halal-haram allows informants to contest hegemonic cultural. Our religious leaders inform us about those brands when we meet for Quran studies. . . what freedom? There. Chechnya. . What justice. 2008. .” She adds that similar flyers have been distributed at her daughter’s ele- . . . Dabashi 2005. say that you came to loot Iraq. Varman and Belk 2009) in Muslim children. This history plays a central role in the way some Islamists view global brands as tyrants who seek to oppress Muslim faith and. Quran orders us to do good deeds and help one another. . For example. this is their democracy!” Similar comments appear on Islamist media on a daily basis and are accentuated by dramatic pictures of infant corpses or striking animations to construe global brands as “baby killers” and “rapists” (fig. . that you were going to invade Iran next. the perceived Western indifference to Muslims’ suffering in Bosnia. Such rhetoric renders boycotting global brands a religious duty (farz) as noted in religious scholars’ opinions: “Boycotting the products of invader countries is a duty of Muslims. nothing but Christian propaganda. the Israeli presence on Islamic holy lands. but also in Kabul and in Srebrenica. in an effort to channel her young children’s interest in Disney movies. . . There’s nothing about our values. nourishing the tyranny discourse are the Islamist opinion leaders. I don’t want to get too specific but the Evangelicals who are running the MNCs have a certain perspective on and objectives in the Middle East. not just financial. Tibi 1983). A2). . . . Mens ¸ure has bought a series of educational products. and thereby. all contribute to the image of the United States and European countries as “unjust” superpowers. above all. it represents the collective interests of a group of arm dealers and oil giants whose job is to create conflict. the prominent forces fueling this perception are As these comments illustrate.” “Our Beloved Prophet. . or what she calls “infidel’s traps. Pointing to it. . We play it together. They’re [MNCs] dragging the geography I live in into war. MNCs provided all kinds of support. sell more weapons. and it’s not just the well-known ones like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola but all of them are tooting the battle horn. it isn’t just an ordinary American company. It looks like they’re just a bunch of cute. . You can call this a conspiracy but it’s MNCs that are ruling the world. Mens ¸ure proudly says: “We know all the infidel brands and stay away from them. . and Iraq (Ahmed 2007. reEast. or applying the precepts of Islam to all aspects of daily life. Dong and Tian 2009. In an interesting twist. Tyranny This discourse portrays global brands as tyrants who seek to oppress Muslim faith and the greater Islamic community. . harmless characters but there’s more to it. An excellent example of how informants construe global brands as a threat to Islam is a pamphlet with the headline “Don’t participate in tyranny” (fig. . We know what they did to the Negroes. the colonial past. This perception is deeply entwined with the same sociohistorical conditions that triggered the emergence of Islamism as a resistance ideology (Ayoob 2008. Take Coca-Cola. Native Americans. JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH Islamic offerings allow informants to negotiate the tensions of living in an ever-tempting and predominantly secular consumer society while upholding the aspiration to “live Islam” (Saktanber 1997. A1). . We saw these ugly faces [America and Britain] before. the whole family. . political. Similar to their counterparts in LICs like India (Varman and Belk 2009) and China (Dong and Tian 2009).” to more suitable options. .

One such company is Koc ¸ Holding. including Ford. Bosch. Local brands. What do you say. Likewise. Alfa Romeo. Arnould. Every product you buy will come back to your sisters and brothers as blood. Although Turkey has never been formally colonized. Such rhetoric resonates deeply with the informants. the supplies are guaranteed. This is noteworthy considering that Arc ¸ elik and Beko appliances by Koc ¸ are a staple in most Turkish households. and spend for your best interest. Likewise. For example. will it be your turn someday? We’re not partaking in injustice and oppression. Urging consumers “not to participate in the violence. and tyranny. DISCUSSION Informants employ three discourses. which goes a step further by promising salvation to those who boycott global brands. We’ve had enough. instructs consumers to protest global brands.INFIDEL BRANDS 675 mentary school and published in Islamist newspapers since the Afghan and Iraq wars began. Informants’ preference for foreign over local brands brings up an interesting question: which one is more infidel? It seems that informants perceive local pro-secular brands as the greater offenders for having succumbed to secularism and forgetting their Muslim roots. these brands are disowned by the informants due to their support of secularist ideology. Other reputable local brands have become Islamist targets when Turkish Armed Forces accused some pro-Islamist businesses of undermining the regime and called for a pro-secular counterboycott in 2007. which informants either buy on installment (often against their religious beliefs) or acquire through immigrant relatives in Europe. A3). companies that enforce the head scarf ban are enwrapped in the tyranny discourse for oppressing the faithful. Despite a long heritage and a favorable reputation. I tell him that every Nestea we buy will become a bullet shot at Muslims. and Koc ¸ . despite many strategic advantages (Ger 1999). the discourse of tyranny and the concomitant derogatory infidel characterization include some Turkish brands such as Eti. Islamist columnists rapidly mobilized a boycott against all Koc ¸ products (Dilipak 2009). and Kjeldgaard 2005. These claims are also semiotically reinforced through the caricaturized dialogue between an American and a Jew (identified by a cowboy hat and a kippah. the narrative invites Muslims to “be sensitive to the blood flow.” The cartoon not only implies that the profits from global brands are channeled to kill Muslims but also portrays the United States as pro-Israel. bombs. . modesty. the tyranny discourse implies that global brands seek to eradicate Islamist identity. obey. and the latter answers: “As long as our products are sold. . This noticeably counters previous scholarly assertions that the “localness” alongside the historical legacies of these companies should render Turkish brands rational alternatives to the “imperialist” global brands (Askegaard. illustrating how informants not only spiritually bond with the greater community of Muslims through their critique but also pass on to their children the ideological threat embodied in global brands: It’s not easy to explain to a five-year-old why he shouldn’t drink Nestea because of what Nestle ´ ’s doing in Palestine. A similar message is conveyed in another flyer (fig. and Philips. . Askegaard and Csaba 2000. Koc ¸ Holding also came under fire when one of its joint ventures with Ford made headlines in Islamist media for expelling workers who performed prayers at work. Sek. I explain to him that the people who make Nestea are using our money to kill our brothers and sisters. to construct global brands as threats to Islam and thus “infidels. She is visibly excited and actually reads out a short poem surrounded by the logos of McDonald’s and Nokia: “They are going to put your sun out.” Consider Ulviye’s comments. In particular.” While the modesty and halal discourses portray infidel brands as imperiling Islamic solidarity and norms. and Budget.” Accentuated by notorious graphic images from Abu Ghraib and Palestine on the back.” the narrative construes global brands as seeking to “put our sun out” or. these are logical alternatives to highly taxed global brands such as Sony. Particularly for budget-conscious consumers like Mens ¸ure. is the one who attains salvation”). We’re reacting as a nation. the pamphlet is laden with potent Islamist rhetoric. halal-haram. The company became the lightning rod of Islamist criticism when it announced that it would not hire men wearing a mustache or beard (both perceived as typical signs of Islamist identity. and bullets. Arman 2008). eradicate Islamic civilization. Hanife firmly identifies all pro-secular establishments as she recites an Islamist version of a proverb: “It is impossible to make pelt from swine and friends with infidels” (the secular version uses “old enemies” instead of “infidels”). These boycotts contributed to informants’ strong reservations against secular companies. Whoever safeguards himself from nefs. Unpacking the constitutive relationships be- Interestingly. Legitimizing its message through a verse from the Quran (verse 16: “Listen. Fiat. Mens ¸ure refrains from purchasing all Koc ¸ branded consumer goods. are as vulnerable as global brands and can just easily become tangled in ideological conflicts. These frames of reference may give away the particular issues that informants find problematic with modern market societies. the idea of umma (community of believers) allows informants to empathize with their Muslim “brothers and sisters. a boycott was issued on Sabancı Holding when veiled students were not allowed to visit one of its factories (Milli Gazete 2006). Mis. . “the ammunition is not on us” at the bottom.” The provocative script. Samsung. it also emanates from particular micro-cultural meanings (Thompson and Troester 2002) that participants hold about an exemplary society embodied in the Golden Age myth. Vedat claims to know “a few people who asked for prayer rooms and got fired” by the Koc ¸ Automotive Group and therefore protests the brands that the company represents in Turkey. respectively). Although the infidel critique is informed by macro-historical factors. figuratively. in which the American asks the Jew if the ammunition supply is sufficient. Thompson and Arsel 2004). namely.

Islamists hold that the ideal society should reflect this divine unity and. preventing social fragmentation. thereby the sacrality of Islam. This moralization project entails an elaborate effort of sorting out. adultery. and tyranny discourses as tropes to construe modern market societies as devoid of social equality. Following the model. should not tolerate any kind of fragmentation (Dabashi 2005. 28). but not protecting their “honor” in the public sphere (by way of abolishing gender segregation). A coherent society is believed to be a fundamental trait of the Golden Age era. in lieu of the social hierarchies that market societies are bound with. links freedom with nudity and sexuality” (Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger 2010. This criticism. Therefore. halal. and facilitating social well-being by building mosques. In Islamist imagina- . umma (Dabashi 2005. threatening to undermine Islamic civilization. on the other hand. propels Islamists to rectify the “morally flawed” modern society according to the Golden Age blueprint. women are the keepers of Islam because home also symbolizes Ka’ba. informants idealize the Ottoman past and the Golden Age for providing a compassionate and. More importantly. while resembling a morally infused. I discuss the theoretical contributions.676 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH tween informants’ micro-cultural value systems and the broader historical context (as elaborated below in the theoretical model) allows us to theoretically perspectivize how informants use the modesty. Parry and Bloch 1989) based on Islamic teachings. From the low cultural and economic-capital informants’ lenses. therefore. neo-traditional gesture toward Gemeinshaft (Tonnies 1887/ 1957). globalization of popular culture further threatened Islamic morals. Informant narratives reveal that global brands are perceived as infidels for inflicting social rivalry whereas modesty serves as social glue. The secular norms have brought about a “satanic lifestyle. Informants’ preoccupation with solidarity can be traced to the Islamic concept of tawhid. Post-1980s. a process of protest and accommodation embodied in what I call a consumer jihad. virtuous women are fundamental to the sustenance of Islam. As the “shadow of God in the world” (Berkes 1998.” Also evoked in the narratives is the presumably egalitarian order during the Ottoman era. only a classless society free of economic and social anxieties can represent the harmony implied in the notion of tawhid and allow Muslims to become a truly united community. and the consumer jihad. Islamist Discourses as Tropes for an Ideal Islamic Society and Consumer Jihad Modesty as a Trope for Social Equality. . the Kemalist reforms outlawed veiling and legalized women’s rights. Thus. Despite marked differences. presumably an egalitarian socioeconomic system. schools. The infidel parable allows informants to characterize global brands as threatening Islamic solidarity and to prescribe modest behavior as an antidote to this danger. who. At the core of this consumption-mediated virtue contest are two competing models of morality: that of the Golden Age and modernity. ideals like a “protector” state and classless society are understandably enticing to the shantytown dwellers. both models view women as central to cultural reproduction of an “ideal” morality. Halal-Haram as a Trope for Morality. Given this background. respectively. in turn. 227) as they draw from anecdotes about Mohammad’s exemplary humility and disregard for class differences or his fairness embodied in the “Medina market. which fueled Islamist revivalism (Saktanber 2002). protector. the modesty discourse. In other words. the Caliph was the ultimate provider. subsidizing machinery to the peasantry (Keyder and Tabak 1991). morality. identity projects. The Ottoman period is widely perceived as a resurrection of the original Golden Age (Lapidus 1992) because it represents the last pinnacle of Islamic civilization and the reunification of Muslims under the Ottoman Sultan. Islamic territories (Saktanber 2002). Roy 1994). . Thus. Islamism not only promises a classless and tension-free society but also offers the vernacular to discursively pursue this ideal. the reappropriation of halal-haram reflects a strong desire to infuse the marketplace with a moral order (Fourcade and Healy 2007. From their view. Tawhid implies that Allah is one and without associates (Roy 1994). who is also the Caliph (Lewis 2002). and hospitals. Women are also fundamental to the Republican agenda but in a significantly different fashion. and Dar-al-Islam. Roy 1994). before introducing the theoretical model. house of God on earth. 13). I review how the infidel parable is narratively linked to Islamist motivating values. is also a trope for social equality. and champions prostitution” (Demircan 2010). and the rising visibility of gays. the state during the Ottoman era came to be known as “father state” (Delaney 1995). the perceived moral decline from an imagined Golden Age of virtue has led to indecency. Informants construe this period as the epitome of “a ruling classless society” (Dabashi 2005. and justice. traditionally providing the land. on the one hand. and the patron (Lapidus 1992) so much so that in colloquial Turkish. Feeling vulnerable vis-a ` -vis a complex market system. In this sense. By encouraging women to take on public roles. The Golden Age view idealizes women as the keepers of home and family. normalizes adultery in the name of friendship. embracing those market offerings that are amicable to Islamist ideology while pushing back those that are not. feel the umbrage of not being able to afford the urban lifestyles they are exposed to on a daily basis. Informants feel that the Western mores and lifestyles embodied in global brands represent a growing departure from Islamic morals. thus. they are the storefront of Turkey’s modernization efforts.” which “promotes sexuality in the disguise of beauty contests. To integrate women into civic life. the secular regime is believed to have jeopardized the virtue of Muslim women. creating a new aesthetics that equates “modernity with indecency . the doctrine of “oneness” and unity. or a discursive tool through which informants contest social hierarchies and mitigate class tensions. possibly suffer the most from losing welfare benefits post-1980s and.

such “satanic” lifestyles are reminiscent of the Age of Ignorance that ensued before Muhammad revealed Islam. 1. the culture war between the seculars and the conservatives can be traced back to the Kemalist reforms (1922–37) that curtailed the role of religious capital (Iannaccone 1990) and traditional wisdom in everyday life. The mazlum character is a frequent motif in the Quran whose misery summons the moral to the rescue (verses 16. informants draw from a constellation of resources (fig. the reappropriation of halal-haram is a trope for morality that allows informants to recapture the lost virtues of the Golden Age (thereby counteracting the threat of returning to the dark days pre-Islam) by condemning global brands as infidels. He argues that it is Turks’ responsibility to resurrect the Ottoman her- itage and urges fellow Turks not “to leave the world of Islam orphaned. This self-portrayal. inner circle) to develop the three discourses that cast infidel brands as a threat to Islam. Taming the marketplace. From this stance. global consumer culture. It strongly resonated with the masses. Compounding this conflict are the fragmentations within the Islamist community post-1990s. it simultaneously constructs the Muslim consumer as the victim or mazlum. a nonviolent way of defending the “true” Muslim way of life against Western and secular influences. which were deterritorialized and rapidly became impoverished in the face of rapid modernization and International Monetary Fund struc¨ nis tural adjustment programs (Ac ¸ ıkel 1996. from selfrejuvenation and spiritual struggle to self-defense (Ahmed 2007. Likewise. In doing so.INFIDEL BRANDS 677 tion. not only do they advocate hedonism and the commodification of women. This helps the informants to blame the other (e. colonizers. and the mythical narratives of original Muslims (fig. engrained in the Turkish-Islamist mindset through various victimization narratives. they end the atrocities and build the righteous. jihad holds multiple meanings.” Such ostracization. 1) suggests that Turks can cure the exploitation that globalization brings about by reviving the Ottoman system. More importantly. As such. Jews. This political rhetoric portrayed a history of Muslim suffering reaching back to the colonial history in the Middle East and the Kemalist period at home. is revealing of informants’ cultural frameworks and reactions to global brands. Consumer Jihad. dead Palestinian babies. Kemalists. Using the tyranny discourse as a trope for justice and avoiding the stigmatized infidel brands allow the informants to pursue this goal. 22. Tyranny (Zulm) as a Trope for Justice. Identifying an ideological foe also affords informants the opportunity to play the protagonist in this crusade. global brands are “accomplices” in these seemingly decadent lifestyles. Jihad is a widely spectacularized concept that has recently become synonymous with Islamist fanaticism (Huntington 1996). For example. As mapped out in the theoretical model. however. the victimization narrative is epitomized in the suffering that Mohammed and the first converts endured in the name of protecting Islam against infidels. 31). Notably. Ayoob 2008). the Golden Age and Ottoman years are upheld by Islamist opinion leaders as exemplary periods that brought justice and peace. and the imprisoned at Abu Ghraib. O ¸ 1997). For Muslims. ideology. Informant narratives reveal that resistance to infidel brands is reminiscent of jihad’s latter meaning as self-defense. however. Against these atrocities. 17. as middle-class Islamists try to destigmatize their social standing by switching to more fashionable veiling styles (Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger 2010). In Islamic philosophy mazlummiyat (victimhood) simultaneously signals the absence of justice and calls for a moral protagonist to return things to normal (Dabashi 2008). and local structures. Duralı (1999. Ac ¸ ıkel (1996) points out the mobilizing potential of victimization narratives that is inherent in the “good’s triumph over evil” promise.. As noted earlier. outer circle) such as macro-historical factors. significantly undermining the cultural authority of orthodox Muslims. the infidel is a theologically informed parable that the informants construe by drawing from a collage of macro-historical referents and micro-cultural meanings. In the Islamist imagination. This perceived threat. 1.g. 26. when combined with global events that are perceived to victimize Muslims. Ergun (2010) reminds the reader of the suffering Mohammed endured against the infidels and promises a better future to those who brave the secular oppression at home and the Western occupation on Muslim lands. they ironically contribute to the perception of those wearing the chador as “radical. The Islamist media further bolstered the martyr image by intermixing local stories with global ones: Turkish girls falling victim to the head scarf ban and being expelled from school. As the above discussion shows. Mohammed and his community transform from victim to hero as the story progresses. The bitter articulation of “infidel brand” also reflects the ostracized socioeconomic position of Islamists as a class of distaste in Turkish society. the consumer jihad gives the informants license to correct the flawed aspects of modern market societies and to construct a marketplace that is consistent with their religious ideology. propels informants to formulate the infidel brand parable. in turn. avoiding infidel brands very much resembles an economic jihad.” In the backdrop of these views. as well as religious teachings. just society of the Golden Age. This discourse casts global brands as instruments of zulm (tyranny). global corporations) for the declining trajectory of Islam vis-a ` -vis Western culture and the subjugation of Muslim identity. which seek to oppress Muslim identity. who would restore the justice and dignity Muslims used to enjoy during the Golden Age. motivates them to defend sacrosanct Islamic values and ideals through a consumer jihad. However. and Dabashi (2008) notes that “delivering justice to the oppressed” is a keynote of Islamist movements. but they also help spread such values with their ubiquity. requires a counternarrative to the market . the informants employ the tyranny discourse to construe the Muslim consumer as victimized by infidel brands. A contemporary version of this narrative is found in the “Turkish-Islamic synthesis” formulated by pro-Islamist parties post-1970s.

some lower-cultural and economic capital informants perform the consumer jihad by withdrawing from the marketplace as much as possible (e. they find this idealized past in the myth of the Golden Age as evinced in informants’ reference to Mohammad’s exemplary practice and the original Muslim community. or a morally impeccable blueprint that would serve as the foundation for the ideal society informants envision. Informants reflect on a time when Islam was “pure. and seeking out Islamic alternatives to everyday consumption choices. assigning shopping to others. the better they will be able to preserve an authentic Islamic culture that will pose a viable alternative to modern market society. and charity work. trying to moralize the market and embracing Islamized products are means through which informants habituate consumerism and market economy. informants seek this blueprint by looking back to find a dignifying past. holding Quran studies. For example. social hierarchies. They feel that the less they participate in the earthly affairs and the mundane functioning of the market system. then. .g. activism is a way of contesting the inequalities. Not only do they represent a nostalgic period in which being faithful had some currency. keeping current with the boycott websites. The infidel parable. however. and erosion of morals the informants perceive to be embedded in contemporary society. The consumer jihad. This type of passive. while the consumer jihad affords them the opportunity to pursue an idealized Islamic society by instilling Islamic mores in the modern marketplace. is a process of accommodation and protest. putting pressure on retailers to carry halal goods.678 FIGURE 1 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH ISLAMIST CONSTRUCTION OF INFIDEL BRANDS society. The extent to which informants accommodate or protest is closely tied to the socioeconomic status of individuals. Blending Islamic teachings and mythical narratives with their worldview (fig. as articulated through the three discourses. waging the consumer jihad means actively participating in the market by following both the secular and Islamist media. inner circle). fasting. but highly pious.. These informants prefer to devote the majority of their time to praying. allows informants to contest what they perceive to be the ill effects of modernization and globalization. For those informants with relatively higher economic and cultural means. 1. The Ottoman past also provides an inspirational model for an ideal Islamic society. These mythologized periods are fundamental to Islamist identity and the infidel critique. but they also serve as archetypal templates against which informants can evaluate today’s market society and envision a “better” world. While protesting infidel brands is a way of “defending” an Islamic way of life against Western ideologies and perceived subjugation. Given their ostracized status. shunning TV and radio) for purposes of spiritual purification.” with the hope that emulating such a flawless past would help construct an amicable marketplace for all.

By showing that the Islamic background and life politics of the informants render the Golden Age myth resonant (out of many epic and nationalist narratives abundant in the pre. Classical scholars have argued that religion. . religion is often assumed to be an underlying motif in consumer narratives as passionate consumption experiences often have overtones of religiosity (Kozinets 2001. Varman and Belk 2009) provide evidence of consumers embracing modern myths to pursue various identity goals through consumption. U ¨ ner and Holt 2010. Yet religious rhetoric may also serve as a catalyst for mobilization and social change. In contrast. exporting TV dramas and music). religion can become a political resource as “human beings will make enormous sacrifices if they believe themselves to be driven by a divine force. consumers often mobilize modern and even commercial myths with temporal inflections reflective of contemporary identity anxieties or sociohistorical crises. as a civil right activist notes: “When Martin [Luther King] would talk about leaving the slavery of Egypt and wandering into a promised land. the informants of this study would be “losers” due to their limited economic means and their dislocated immigrant position.” Losers are those who “have suffered the dislocations of modernity without the attendant economic benefits” and thus “are very suspicious of the relativism fostered by the market and economy” and “favor a strong welfare state. this study illustrates the powerful role that religion. is doomed to fail in an increasingly globalized world. Postmodern scholars have opposed this view.” As a result. Rather. arguing that modernity paradoxically fosters religious affiliation as the disenchanted and alienated modern individual desperately seeks for meaning in life (Fırat and Venkatesh 1995). this study addresses religious nuances not articulated by previous conceptions of myth (Levy 1981. existing studies do not explicitly address religion as a rich source of consumer mythology. and the timely emergence of Turkish Islamic brands. These religious resources are instrumental in shaping the infidel parable and mobilizing the consumer jihad. arguing that it numbs political consciousness by “deflecting temporal concerns toward other worldly pursuits. Luedicke et al. exploit the new opportunity spaces created by economic reform” (Yavuz 2004. It was their faith. considering proIslamist AK Party’s ambition to make Turkey the leader of the Muslim world (e. this study offers a nuanced account of how low-income Islamists both accommodate and protest market ideology in various ways. Theoretical Implications Religion. ¨ stu 2010. Luedicke et al. 29–30) observes. and Otnes 1999. in addition to its palliative function. In Yavuz’s terminology.g.” Particularly. consumer jihad bridges accounts of accommodation found among the upper-middle class (Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger 2010) and protest observed among the poor (Yavuz 2004). the consumer jihad they perform also exhibits the integrative strategies that Yavuz finds characteristic of winners. and other examples (Belk and Costa 1998. plays in the mobilization of consumer myths and the formation of consumer goals. Mun ˜ iz and Schau 2005). . The findings also suggest that religion mobilizes consumers to pursue social change. 2010). 276–77) distinguishes between the “losers” and “winners.” In contrast. Akin to the way Martin Luther King evokes a promised land. in the wake of modernization. 50). everyday men performing masculinity myths (Holt and Thompson 2004). As such. 278). Yavuz (2004. Price. . Luedicke et al. losers “disengage” and “focus on cultivating the inner self. The transformative aspects of consumer jihad that seek to negotiate Islam with capitalism and modern market society in light of Golden Age values contrast with Marxist accounts of religion as an opiate.. Indeed. 43). Informants’ endeavor to forge the golden age myth in the market also allows us to enrich previous conceptualizations of Islamism as a paramilitary movement that hopelessly pursues a lost grand past and. it was the thing they had been nurtured on” (as quoted in Harris 1994. the winners are “integrative. informants seek a promised space and time for the marginalized Islamist identity through the Golden Age myth and the Islamic vernacular.” and they seek to transform the market society from within. consumers recreating western cultural meanings at a stock show (Penaloza 2001). The informants’ restorative and reformative efforts embodied in consumer jihad reflect Islamist agency. interestingly. These are the proIslamist businesses. when intertwined with ideology. Turkey’s recent role as a key cultural intermediary in the Middle East (e. As Thompson and Tian (2008. While further research is needed to address the myriad ways in which socioeconomic status interacts with Islamist ideology to inform market orientation. offering oppressed groups no more than pacification to their subordinated status in society” (Harris 1994. As such. thereby attesting to religion’s important role in consumer culture as a catalyst for social change.INFIDEL BRANDS 679 These varying degrees of accommodation and protest embodied in consumer jihad are also consistent with Yavuz’s (2004) typology of Islamist movements. While many consumption narratives might have religious undertones. studies show that ordinary consumption experiences are being imbued with magical or mythical qualities (Arnould. Yet. would gradually lose the pivotal role it once played in traditional societies (Weber 1904/1930). Ideology. somehow that made sense to folks. The Marxist position typically emphasizes religion’s palliative and consolatory function. brokering peace deals between Palestine and Israel. engaging in nuclear negotiations with Iran). Referring to the fragmentation within the movement. Stern 1995). Befitting our times. and Consumption. It was their grass roots ideology. religious vernacular and myths can serve as significant cultural resources that mobilize individuals. thus.g. which “through the commodification of Islamic symbols. As Wald (1987.and post-Islamic Turkish history) and illustrating how this myth informs the infidel parable and the consumer jihad. 2010. the infidel parable is a forward-looking rhetoric that not only firmly entrenches the Islamist identity in the global community but also helps demonize the competition in an odd but nonetheless market-savvy way.. .

Second. and perceived victimization in the hands of global powers within the marketplace. Murphy 2009). in practice they are well versed in the market. Kozinets 2002. Rather. this study illuminates market articulations of Islam. the Islamist rhetoric of victimization and moral decay echo the Swadeshi activists’ view of Coca-Cola as subordinating India (Varman and Belk 2009).” The implications of these interpretations are twofold: (1) Islam(ism) is the ideological archenemy of and seeks to undermine Western civilization as most elaborately articulated in the “clash of civilizations” theory (Huntington 1993). Restoring meaning in a material world by seeking a community or a lost past via market-mediated experiences has also been noted as a significant pattern in CCT research (Arnould and Thompson 2005). such explanations fail to illuminate the intermingling complexity of issues triggering the Islamist critique. Simon 2011. this study helps us move beyond the popular clash of civilizations theory. and market society. Barber (1996) views Islam in clash with “McWorld. informants seek a resolution to their sidelined ideological status. the core of the infidel critique represents a culmination of Islamist reflexivity to and perceptions of historical global-local as well as locallocal dynamics. from the essentialist and reductionist perspective of the clash of civilizations theory. this article contrasts conventional interpretations of Islamism as a rhetorical tool that naturally breeds an anticonsumerist ideology. These similarities illustrate how the Islamist critique is dialectically linked to global criticism of modernization. secular system. green movements. Growing up with the modernist rhetoric and secular education system. globalization. The pursuit of a romantic past is not peculiar to Islamists. Together.” By demonstrating that the ideal of the Golden Age can actually be pursued through everyday consumption choices. reinforcing Wilk’s (1995) concept of global structures of common difference. the Islamist discourses. Wong 2007). suggest that rather than dethroning market capitalism and consumer culture. ethical consumerism. First. Sandıkc ¸ ı and Ger 2010. include people of the same nationality and religious orientation. By demonstrating that the notion of infidel includes not just global brands but also local ones. The latter view of Islam as barbaric and anti-Western understandably resonates with many individuals in a post-9/11 world. this study can be interpreted as an example of consumer behavior motivated by anti-American. the mysticism of mosques and palaces. 702) suggest that Islamic fundamentalism is “one of the most powerful threats to global consumerist ideology today. forthcoming). By highlighting the dialogical links (Holt 2002) among Islam. This market-bound activism may be attributable to the fact that informants are products of the modern. or the despotism of Muslim rulers (Pinn 2000). First of all. Webb 2005). However. the Islamist quest to moralize the market based on Islamic principles is not unlike Christian activism that targets corporations like Disney and Home Depot for promoting Paganism and homosexuality. Indeed. 2010). Interestingly. advancing prior conceptualizations of Islamist ideology. The Islamic doppelga ¨ nger brands. most informants are indifferent to and even unaware of the many postmodern tropes of anticorporate and anticonsumerist criticism such as sweatshop labor. Consumer Resistance and Anticonsumerism. 2011).680 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH 609) suggest. rather. This research extends theories of consumer resistance and anticonsumerism in several ways. while Kozinets and Handelman (2004. anti-Zionist. the Islamist discursive agenda differs from some of the key concerns expressed in the “jeremiad against consumerism” cultural viewpoint (Luedicke et al. and the Televangelists’ take on America’s economic problems as retribution for its amoral permissiveness (O’Guinn and Belk 1989). pollution. voluntary simplicity. and consumer resistance (Elgin 1981.” or the global consumer world. Ulver-Sneistrup et al. either. Yet. While the infidel critique parallels consumer moralism. This article addresses all of these implications respectively. and implicitly. genetically modified organisms. along with the modern marketing strategies Islamists use to institutionalize halal in Turkey (Izberk-Bilgin. and consumerism. market. exhibiting knowledge of brands and producers. Islamists seek to be firmly embedded in a market society so that they may transform it to be congruent with Islamist mores. stagnation in the lower steps of social hierarchies. antiWestern ideologies. indicating that such ideological tensions cannot be conveniently reduced to an East-West conflict but. Particularly. searching for comfort and inspiration in an idealized past has been a recuperating practice recurrent in history (Lears 1994. Further. Meyer 1998. particularly overshadowing the role of local-local dynamics. and (2) Islam(ism) is essentially antimarket. Thompson and Coskuner-Balli 2007. Turner 1994. Likewise. this study agrees with Sandıkc ¸ ı and and Ger (2010) that what we observe is “Jihad via McWorld” rather than Jihad versus McWorld. while convenient. A latent implication of these views is their portrait of the Islamic consumer in an Orientalist fashion as an exotic breed with fundamentally different life views and projects. and fair trade. the Chinese perceptions of domination by Western brands (Dong and Tian 2009). While informants may criticize consumerism and capitalism at the discursive level. Most popular perceptions of Islam are shaped by the colonial accounts of the eroticism of the harem. the Islamist critique we see in this study is quiet reminiscent of the consumer moralism found in a closer reading of the research on sustainability. inadvertently reinforcing the “otherness” of Muslims. thereby posing a threat to consumer culture and the contemporary social order in Western societies (Gellner 1992. at times of significant social change. the past that the Islamists uphold in the Golden Age myth is “not just a repository of displaced meaning for valued ideals but also an invaluable cultural resource for creating a more desirable future. Thompson and Arsel 2004. Consequently. per- . this study counters assumptions that Islam is antimarket and contributes to a bourgeoning stream of research that empirically investigates market reflections of Islam (Rudnyckyj 2009. these findings also challenge exoticization of the Muslim consumer.

Infidel Brands as Symbolic Devices. which seek to inculcate certain values and norms of behavior by repetition . issues like fair trade may trickle down gradually through Islamist media and intellectuals to low-cultural and economic capital individuals. The consumer jihad reinforces this solidarity by allowing informants to imagine. Kozinets and Handelman 2004. are reflective of these more imminent and “closer to home. It is important to note that it is not an Islamist antagonism toward a particular brand or even an antimarket stance that unites the informants. Particularly. Thompson 2003. First. purchased (Thompson and Coskuner-Balli 2007). instrumental in fostering a criticism of consumer culture and market capitalism. unlike the postmodern brand communities or evanescent hypercommunities. This research also highlights the important role that brands play in the articulation of the time and space dimensions of ideological consumption (Varman and Belk 2009). . is not fully reflective of how Islamic teachings are diversely understood within the global Muslim community due to sectarian and ethnic differences. there has been a growing interest in how consumption mediates consumers’ understanding of past. Turkish informants’ sociohistorically constructed and mainly Sunni interpretations of Islam. we see that the infidel brand parable facilitates informants’ pursuit of Islamist identity both at an individual and a collective level. . Varman and Belk 2009). or what Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983) call “invented tradition. think of themselves as better Muslims. the lack of a formal colonial experience in Turkey may suggest that Islamist reactions to global brands can be more pronounced in countries with a colonial past. present. positions of disadvantage and disempowerment. or easily terminated. Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983. Thompson and Arsel 2004. they normally attempt to establish continuity with a suitable historic past. the Islamist community represents a kind of social solidarity organized around a religious identity where membership cannot be established in an ad hoc fashion (Kozinets 2002. and global events. if not more.INFIDEL BRANDS 681 haps as a result of the low-cultural capital of informants. Varman and Belk 2009). and future (Dong and Tian 2009. similar to the way members of brand communities form social unity. 84) suggests that brands are significant ideoscapes in the globalization process: brand is “a central metaphor for understanding marketplace actors and practices in the modern game of identity formation. 1) define invented tradition as “a set of practices.” In this sense. This partial reading of the past. Cayla and Eckhardt 2008. LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH This study has several limitations. in turn. Mun ˜ iz and O’Guinn 2001. denotes a particular moment and space when Islam was pure and being Muslim signaled a privileged social status. McAlexander. normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules . this remains an empirical question. Mun ˜ iz and O’Guinn 2001. Rather. Performing the consumer jihad is not only an assertion of religious identity but also a way of connecting with the global Muslim community and constructing a pan-Islamic identity. which conveniently disregards the acute inequalities that characterized ancient times or the cons of the modernization period. They are responses to novel situations which take the form of reference to old situations” (emphasis added). As Hobsbawm suggests. Given the accelerated flows of information. Finally. rather. Thompson and Troester 2002). this study contributes to a growing literature on the symbolic aspects and social linking value of brands (Askegaard 2006. Thompson and Coskuner-Balli 2007. Askegaard (2006. the informants’ low socioeconomic class status . as in the case of the shantytown residents of this study. Mun ˜ iz and Schau 2005). . relationships. closer to heart” issues. and Koenig 2002. create. and sustain a spiritual bond to a community of wronged Muslims. . . informants selectively draw from recent and remote past references to piece together a “suitable ¨ spast” in response to a deterritorialized Muslim identity (U tu ¨ ner and Holt 2007). Whether these types of market-mediated communities. Mun ˜ iz and Schau 2005). This interest in the social construction of time coincides with increasing attention to the role of brands in facilitating the national and regional space-making practices within global power hierarchies (Cayla and Eckhardt 2008. . . are equally.” motivates informants to construct a time and space for the marginalized Islamist identity. and forge spiritual connections with the umma. therefore. Schouten. Finally. in which religious identity offers a staunch form of affiliation in addition to shared feelings for a brand. performing the consumer jihad is a practice that is aimed at creating the Islamist moment and space within a secular culture. While some elements of the Turkish Islamist critique can be expected to be common throughout the Islamic world. By demonstrating how infidel brands help informants understand others. are more sustainable or successful in transforming the market than other types of brand communities is an interesting question for future empirical research. . brands serve as vehicles for identity construction both at the individual and collective level. This research builds on these studies by illustrating how invented past. influence a similarly peculiar interpretation of Islamism among the informants. Yet. Recently. The growing literature on the symbolic aspects of brands suggest that brand stories increasingly structure the way we understand our identity. Holt 2002. Future research should explore if the consumer discourses identified in this study are prevalent in other parts of the Muslim world. Building on Cayla and Eckhardt (2008). and infidel brands are integral to this exercise. Second. this research contributes to brand communities literature by illustrating the importance of religious identity in facilitating market-mediated community formation. this study captures a particular interpretation of Islam that has been informed by the unique historicity of the Turkish context and. Islamist solidarity is founded on a shared religious identity and ideological appropriations of Islam. As such. social conflicts. this study demonstrates that market skepticism and consumer morality are not exclusive to middle-class individuals with cultural capital and economic privileges (Arnould 2007.

sociocultural resources to negotiate ideologies and practices in everyday life (Holt 1997. particularly during the early years of the movement in Turkey and elsewhere. who reportedly splurge on gold faucets engraved with Swarovski crystals or satellite systems streaming live views of the Great Mosque of Mecca (Ergu 2009). as examined in this study. Wealthy Islamists seek to legitimize their class-based dispositions to consumerism by combating the “mistaken views about Islam being against wealth” (Bug ˘ ra 1998. 531).. Just like other consumers. this class of Islamists has even developed a doctrine of prosperity. Seeking to negotiate their religiosity with consumerism. This ideal has served. Islamists rely on their class-based. to counter the modesty ethos.682 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH does not allow us to fully explore how middle-class or affluent Islamists perceive global brands. . thereby helping Muslim actors to make space for Islamist identity (e. would probably not be shared among the middle-class Islamists who indeed use fashionable veiling to disassociate themselves from the likes of the Islamists in this study (Sandıkc ¸ı and Ger 2010). but also a pragmatic one. Investigating the new discourses of consumerism that emerge within the Muslim community and exploring what they may mean for the appeal of Islamism—particularly for the poor—would prove to be an interesting interdisciplinary avenue of future research.g. we can expect that the halalharam and tyranny discourses will resonate with many Islamists from various socioeconomic strata. Kjeldgaard and Askegaard 2006). Therefore. to create a strong front against secular ideology. The same could also be said of Islamist nouveau riche. The unity of Muslims is not just a sacrosanct goal. Islamist schools and political par¨ ncu ties) in predominantly secular countries (O ¨ and Weyland 1997). Also requiring further exploration is whether the Islamist boycotts are successful in the long run. Yet the normative decrees of modesty. Rather interesting from a theoretical perspective is how contesting interpretations of Islamism would contribute to the utopia of Islamic solidarity. Turkish Islamists’ newfound power will perhaps undermine the utopia of solidarity as some no longer feel the need to enact a consistent Islamist identity. it is very likely that some of the discourses identified in this study will appeal to Islamists from different class positions while others will not. For example. akin to its Evangelical counterpart.

” FIGURE A2 ISLAMIST BOYCOTT LIST 2 NOTE.—Heading reads: “People.APPENDIX FIGURE A1 ISLAMIST BOYCOTT LIST 1 NOTE.” Footer reads: “Israel Boycott Products List. do not participate in tyranny!” .—Heading on the picture reads: “Baby killer Israel.

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