Social Sciences and Humanities
To many observers, contemporary Muslim women are ambiguously positioned between universalized discourses of secular emancipation and Islamist assertions of religious citizenship. What does it mean to be a secular citizen and also a member of a religious community? Should feminists of Muslim background promote religious unity in the face of increasing Islamophobia or espouse universal secularism as the route to gender justice and community integration?
Dr. Jamal’s current research “In and against the Islam/secular dichotomy: South Asian Muslim women's struggles and transnational feminist practices” highlights the new types of citizen-subjects that are emerging from the complex interplay of gender, race, religion and sexuality with changing global economic, political and cultural relations. It maps the dispersion of the War on Terror, the rise of Islamophobia in Western societies and the increase of religious militancy in South Asia as these threaten to unravel the liberal foundations of democratic institutions and affect Muslim women’s feminist subjectivities.
In this transnational study she interviews Muslim feminists who are citizens of Pakistan, an Islamic state, and juxtapose these with interviews of Muslim feminists living as religious minority subjects in two secular societies, Canada and India and investigates how Muslim feminist scholars and activists in South Asia and Canada define what is “secular” and “religious” and their reworking, if any, of these notions post 9/11. I examine how feminists experience and negotiate dominant constructs of secular and religious in the course of their work and lives.
Interview subjects – Muslim feminists
This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through a Standard Research Grant (2010-2013).
This work deepens and expands the emergent scholarly debates in sociology, philosophy, gender studies and politics on whether “secularism”, and its concomitant notion citizenship, are the only available or most desirable projects for social integration in a globalizing and pluralistic world? Or are we in a post-secular period where individual subjects may serve their well-being by turning to other modes of self and collective identification?
In and against the Islam/secular dichotomy: South Asian Muslim women's struggles and transnational feminist practices