Contesting the future: Muslim men as political actors in the context of Australian multiculturalism

Conference item


Roose, Joshua. (2012). Contesting the future: Muslim men as political actors in the context of Australian multiculturalism. Australian Association for the Study of Religion Conference 2012: Multiple Religious Modernities. Australia: University of Melbourne.
AuthorsRoose, Joshua
Abstract

In the period 2001-2011, Australian Muslims have inhabited an often hostile social climate characterised by extreme levels of scrutiny, public surveillance and pressure. The question of Muslim identity in Australia has clearly become a central pivot around which debate has focussed for both the place of Islam in Australia and the adequacy of the official state policy of multiculturalism. This paper draws upon extensive fieldwork with Australian-born Muslim men in Melbourne, Australia. These men, including Muslim hip-hop group The Brothahood and public intellectual Waleed Aly have become successful political actors displaying highly creative and empowered ‘project identities’ to challenge both racism and hard-line textualist Muslims, shaping the future of Australian Islam and multiculturalism. The paper also draws upon over 4000 pages of listening surveillance device and phone intercept transcripts involving Australia’s first convicted terrorist group, the Benbrika Jama’ah. This group displayed a disempowered ‘neo-resistance identity’ seeking to commit an act of destructive violence against the State and were completely unsuccessful as political actors, reinforcing the hegemony of those they were seeking to challenge. A Bourdieuian analytical frame is employed to reveal how key social influences interact as either enabling or disabling influences, shaping the development of constructive ‘project identities’ and ‘neo-resistance identities’. Enabling social influences and interactions include Tasuwuuf and traditional Islam, high levels of education, professional employment, exposure and familiarity with Western cultures, the multicultural State and an upward social trajectory whilst disabling influences include low levels of education, unemployment, welfare dependence, unskilled work, criminal activity, the hegemonic State and a downward social trajectory. These findings have important implications for understanding the development of both Islam and multiculturalism in both the Australian and wider Western contexts, revealing the intertwined yet contested nature of both, the benefits to Australia of a critical and robust political Islam and the centrality of hope and recognition to shaping constructive political engagement by Australian born Muslims.

Year2012
JournalAustralian Association for the Study of Religion
PublisherUniversity of Melbourne
Open accessOpen access
Publisher's version
Research GroupInstitute for Religion, Politics, and Society
Place of publicationAustralia
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https://acuresearchbank.acu.edu.au/item/8q836/contesting-the-future-muslim-men-as-political-actors-in-the-context-of-australian-multiculturalism

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