James Redfield is Assistant Professor of Biblical and Talmudic Literatures at St. Louis University. He received his PhD in Religious Studies from Stanford University, his MA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley, and his BA in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College.

His recent research is on the history of anthropology in Talmudic literature. He has varied interests in the humanities and as a translator (French, German, Yiddish).

'Ich komme groß raus':
Muslim Youth and Hip Hop in the ‘Global Ghetto’

ICI Project 2007-08

This project will deepen the understanding of how mass media in the era of globalization informs the production of local cultures and spaces of identification. It builds on a year of ethnographic work on how two of Berlin Neukölln’s young Muslim migrants use Hip Hop—as much a movement as a music—to define themselves in relation to spaces of family, neighbourhood, school, and the city. It builds upon a central dialectic between cultural material that these youth obtain in the ‘non-spaces’ (Augé’s phrase) of mass media/internet and the distinctive local spaces and practices where they appropriate, reinterpret, and reproduce this cultural material.

I hope to challenge assumptions about the political dimensions of the emerging ‘space’ of cultural identification that this global/local dialectic is producing worldwide, especially among minority, migrant, Muslim youth in Europe: what I call the ‘global ghetto’. This is a ‘space’ of international, inter-religious and even inter-class dimensions, defined primarily by identification through alterity. And, although their Hip Hop constantly proclaims ‘Ich komme groß raus, for many Muslim youth in Germany it remains the only ‘space’ that they can truly call home.