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Conscripts or volunteers? Young Muslims as everyday explainers

Version 2 2024-06-03, 23:39
Version 1 2019-02-14, 15:29
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 23:39 authored by Anita HarrisAnita Harris, S Hussein
Young Muslims in the West are often at the forefront of efforts to explain, demystify and de-stigmatise Islam and Muslim identity through everyday knowledge-sharing – from formal initiatives such as Speed-Date-a-Muslim and Coffee and Islam to informal fielding of questions from classmates, colleagues and strangers. This paper draws on contact theory to investigate conditions and drivers for young Australian Muslims who seek to explain their religious community to outsiders. We consider how explaining can be situated in a shift in Australian multicultural politics towards intercultural communication and knowledge exchange. We investigate how this focus on cross-cultural awareness shapes young Muslims’ everyday experiences of accounting for themselves, either reluctantly or enthusiastically, in the contact zones of Australian educational institutions, workplaces and neighbourhoods. We suggest that the work of young Muslims as everyday explainers should be acknowledged both for its contribution to social cohesion and the toll it exacts from them. We argue that while ‘explaining’ is often an agentic effort for connection and participation, it is also often unequally divided labour, and if over-determined as the key strategy to counter anti-Muslim sentiment can serve to assign responsibility to individuals and communities for social cohesion, and miscast racism as ignorance and misunderstanding.

History

Journal

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Volume

46

Pagination

3974-3991

Location

Abingdon, Eng.

ISSN

1369-183X

eISSN

1469-9451

Language

English

Notes

In press

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Issue

19

Publisher

ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD