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Burney, Saleema Farah (2020) British Muslim Women Between Community, Country and God: A Case Study of Successful Identification. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis has developed out of a desire to document the voices of a sample of publicly active yet unheard British Muslim women. In the face of widespread negative narratives around Muslim women particularly, it communicates the concerns of ‘women who were not oppressed’ (van Es, 2017:5). In addition, it explores how these proactive and engaged women have built salient, hybrid identities. The methodological approach taken by this thesis has favoured issues pertaining to the individual rather than the institutional, and has explored ‘beneath the surface’ forces in a focus on ‘lived Islam’. In addition, in applying participatory feminist methods to research the lives of religious women, the thesis has instituted a novel approach to the study of Muslims. The arguments presented here found a theoretical home in the works of Saba Mahmood (2005), championing the alternative agency constructions of religious women, and Tariq Modood (2005, amongst others), in his scholarship around British Muslims (and other minorities) on the national scene. Furthermore, the frames of postcolonial scholar Homi Bhabha (2004) are employed to describe the hybridity of space and identities that respondents exhibited. This study reports the significance of religion in the lives of these women, and the particular finding of an observed trajectory in their lives, leading to a greater desire to mix with non- Muslims. With this unique combination of strong religious belief and spirited agency, these 5 women have been able to uphold core aspects of their identity in a secular society, while also successfully contributing to that very society. The social contributions, integration and interaction of these women can be seen as examples of engaged citizenship, showing possibilities for a pluralist, postsecular society in which minorities and their contributions are valued. In highlighting how these women disrupt stereotypes, this thesis makes a significant contribution to academic discourses seeking the accommodation of religious individuals in otherwise secular spaces.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Alison Scott-Baumann
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2021 10:27

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