The construction of Muslim identities in the United Kingdom and France: A contribution to the critique of Orientalism

Brown, Malcolm David (1999) The construction of Muslim identities in the United Kingdom and France: A contribution to the critique of Orientalism. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis makes a contribution to the critique of Orientalism, through a theoretical analysis and empirical observation of the construction of Muslim identities in the United Kingdom and France. It examines Western stereotypes of Islam, particularly of Muslims in the West, and ways in which they have responded, through the construction of Muslim identities, to these stereotypes. The central contribution lies in joining these issues, establishing a dialectic of Orientalism and Muslim identities. The thesis focuses on the stereotype of Islam as homogeneous, the sociological reality that Islam and Muslim identities are diverse, and posits the same dialectical relationship between these phenomena. Part I examines Western representations of Islam, and begins with a theoretical and historical view of Orientalism, starting from Edward Said's work. It also insists on the diversity of Orientalist and Muslim perspectives, emphasises the mutual constitution of Islam and the West, and analyses their active participation in a process of polarisation. The thesis goes on to analyse the concept of Islamophobia, and argues it encapsulates an aspect of current reality, though it refers to diverse phenomena. Other representations of Islam, particularly in the media, are examined in the following chapter, which discusses stereotypes of exoticism, fanaticism, delinquency, and an emergent critique of Islamophobia. Part II focuses on Muslim identities in the United Kingdom and France, and examines ways in which Muslims, through the construction of Muslim identities, incorporate or reject Western representations of Islam. It begins by discussing theories of identity, and develops a sociological framework for understanding Muslim identities. It goes on to show, and this is a central contribution of the thesis, that Muslim identities are diverse, and this diversity represents di6Ferent responses to the stereotype of Islam as homogeneous. It describes and analyses different meanings and articulations of Islam, diverse sources of Muslim identities, and the combination of Muslim identities with other identities. The following chapters identify arenas in which Islam and the West actually meet, and thus examines the dialectic of Orientalism and Muslim identities more closely. Chapter 7 considers theoretical and empirical relationships between Muslim identities and national identities. Chapter 8 examiaes the educational sphere in a British-French comparative perspective, and focuses particularly on the cultural meanings of the hijab (Islamic headscarf). Finally, Chapter 9 describes, and analyses the significance of, Muslim-Christian dialogue, an arena in which Islam meets the 'Christian West', and in which a diversity of Muslim identities is developed. The conclusion corroborates the dialectic of Orientalism and Muslim identities, emphasises comparisons between the United Kingdom and France, and suggests directions for fixture research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Robert Miles
Keywords: Islamic studies, Social research, Ethnic studies
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-71288
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 10:49
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 10:49
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71288

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