On the discursive and methodological categorisation of islam and muslims in the west: Ontological and epistemological considerations
journal contributionposted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by Fethi MansouriFethi Mansouri
This article reflects on the ethical and epistemological challenges facing researchers engaged in contemporary studies of Islam and Muslims in the West. Particularly, it focuses on the impact of the constructions and categorisations of Muslims and Islam in research. To do this, it considers the entwinement of public discourses and the development of research agendas and projects. To examine this complex and enmeshed process, this article explores ideological, discursive and epistemological approaches that it argues researchers need to consider. In invoking these three approaches alongside an analysis of a collection of recent research, this article contends that questions of race, religion and politics have been deployed to reinforce, rather than challenge, certain essentialist/orientalist representations of Islam and Muslims in the West in research. As this article shows, this practice is increasingly threatening to compromise, in a Habermasian communicative sense (i.e., the opportunity to speak and be heard for all concerned), the ethical and epistemological underpinnings of social science research with its emphasis on inclusion and respect.