MENA Forum: Diasporas in Transition: Islam, Gender and New Regimes of Governance
Speaker: Kathryn Spellman Poots
Moderator: Lisa Anderson
The session will trace the emergence of ‘’Islam’’ and “Muslim” as politicized and securitized categories in Western Europe and USA. It will start by examining the rising prominence of “Muslim” self- and group-identification in relation to the integration of Islam and Muslim practices into Western states, both pre- and post-9/11. Drawing on ethnographic research on Shi’i Muslims in the UK, I will show how geopolitics in the ME, the “war on terror” and the fear of Muslim extremism in the West not only complicates the role of Islam in relation to Western states, but also transforms the relationship within and between Muslim communities. Instead of privileging the reproduction and integration of Islam in block form and as a fixed religion system I would argue for the need for empirical research that provides an understanding of the diverse ways that Muslim populations engage and respond to particular local, national and transnational social and political conditions.