Muslims in Britain: Race, Place and Identities

Muslims in Britain: Race, Place and Identities

Muslims in Britain: Race, Place and Identities

Muslims in Britain: Race, Place and Identities


Following the events of 11th September 2001 in the USA, and more especially, the bombings on the London underground on 7th July 2005 and the incident at Glasgow Airport on 30th June 2007, an increasing amount of public attention has been focused upon Muslims in Britain. Against the backdrop of this debate, this book sets out a series of innovative insights into the everyday lives of Muslims living in contemporary Britain, in an attempt to move beyond prevalent stereotypes concerning what it means to be 'Muslim'.

Combining original empirical research with theoretical interventions, this collection offers a range of reflections on how Muslims in Britain negotiate their everyday lives, manage experiences of racism and exclusion, and develop local networks and global connections. The authors explore a broad range of themes including gender relations; educational and economic issues; migration and mobility; religion and politics; racism and Islamophobia; and the construction and contestation of Muslim identities. Threaded through the treatment of these themes is a unifying concern with the ways in which geography matters to how Muslims negotiate their daily experiences as well as their racialised, gendered and religious identities. Above all, attention is focused upon the role of the home and local community, the influence of the economy and the nation, and the power of transnational connections and mobilities in the everyday lives of Muslims in Britain.

Includes contributions from:Louise Archer, Yahya Birt, Sophie Bowlby, Claire Dwyer, Richard Gale, Peter Hopkins, Lily Kong, Sally Lloyd-Evans, Sean McLoughlin, Sharmina Mawani, Tariq Modood, Anjoom Mukadam, Caroline Nagel, Deborah Phillips, Bindi Shah, and Lynn Staeheli.


Richard Gale and Peter Hopkins

Introduction – British Muslim identities and
the politics of writing

Researching and writing on Islam and Muslim identities has become an unavoidably political enterprise. Superficially of course, this observation is (or should be) nothing more than a professional commonplace – all research processes are inherently political, as any reflexive researcher knows. Skewed relations of power between researcher and researched are a constant of most social research situations, further complicated by cross-cutting considerations such as whether the researcher is an insider or outsider of the research participants' social network, and whether or not there are gendered, generational, ethnic or class differences – most often a combination of some or all of these – which need to be sensitively negotiated in research encounters. Moreover, these considerations do not simply evaporate on the completion of fieldwork, but carry over into the writing process, taking on new dynamics as existing codes and conventions of writing are adapted to the task of articulating particular (read selected) cultural representations. This is the salutary lesson taught by James Clifford and George Marcus in their seminal work, Writing Culture (1986). Indeed, as Clifford remarks in his introduction to the book '[social] science is in, not above, historical and linguistic processes', to the extent that 'the poetic and the political are inseparable' in ethnographic and other scientific writing (Clifford 1986: 2). But if a crucial part of the continuing purchase of Clifford's observations is their level of generality, they take on a particular acuteness – a difference of degree rather than kind – in contemporary research on Islam, on account of the sheer intensity of public contestation over competing representations of Muslims, both in Britain and elsewhere. Sensationalisms about the 'allegiances' of Muslims in diaspora saturate media . . .

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