This chapter presents the author's reflections on the methods and challenges involved in studying both legal and illegal Islamist movements up close. The author details his attempts to make contact and interview members of the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), a political party modeled after the Muslim Brotherhood. The author describes an approach he calls “shuttle ethnography,” which combines extended ethnographic fieldwork and the analysis of texts and relevant survey data when available (and appropriate). Like a shuttle diplomat, the author bounced between actors, challenging each group's pontifications with insights and objections culled from their competitors. He found that there was no better way to tease out their beliefs and positions than to invoke this contrarian view; and this allowed me to better understand the nuances and distinctions between and within groups.
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