Date of Award
Sociology and Anthropology
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Hegemonic anti-Muslim rhetoric, entangled with global structures of white supremacy, imperialism, and colonialism, constructs Islam as culturally and civilizationally critical to the instability of supposedly peaceful secular western societies. Muslim women’s bodies, specifically, become sites where the Muslim is socio-politically constructed as Other, disconnected from her religiosity and constituted as a racialized Other. This dissertation contributes to the nuanced and intersectional body of scholarship examining the complexities of the Muslim experience in Canada today by analyzing the creation and power of a group of Muslim women engaged in impactful resistances as they seek to create change within and for their communities. Analyses of subjectivities, resistance, and power relations unpack how individuals navigate between externalized constructions of Self and internalized constructions of Self, through strategies that embrace, confront, adopt, and modify. This dissertation analyzes a community-based project in which I invited four Muslim women activists in Windsor-Essex to together plan, implement, and evaluate a social action to address anti-Muslim racism. Component One comprised of the community project, where the women decided to create a wellness-centered space for Muslim women to unburden the challenges in their lives, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, global racist and antiracist movements, and their various intersecting responsibilities. This group, Circles of Wisdom, was to be a safe space of support, care, and feminist community. Component Two comprised of the research project, in which, as a researcher, I thematically analyzed secondary data from Component One in addition to scheduling follow-up individual interviews with the community members who participated in Component One. This research component explored the following research question: How do Muslim women activists in Windsor-Essex develop a collective political consciousness to resist the challenges they face as gendered religious subjects in Canada? In this dissertation, I theorize that Circles of Wisdom constitutes a collective critical faith-based epistemic resistance (Zine, 2004), a novel strategy for engaging in resistance founded on shared faith, shared social justice values, and shared longing for community, created by and for Muslim women. Through the women’s simultaneous embrace and refusal of various power relations that externally sought to construct their subjectivities, I theorize how the participants navigate and strategize to create a new collective subjectivity that reclaims their sense of self and more authentically reflects who they are and who they want to be as Muslim women. This resistance was characterized by three primary components: (1) constructing an alternative collective subjectivity based on a new set of social relations rooted in wellness; (2) meeting in a transcendental digital space; and, (3) demonstrating responsibility to community. Circles of Wisdom demonstrates that prioritization of community and reclamation of Self are foundational for Muslim women as they navigate a world dominated by neoliberal anti-Muslim racism. In addition to contributing to the fields of political sociology and social movements, transnational feminism, community-engaged methodologies, and critical Muslim studies, this project inspires the creation of additional community-centred spaces for Muslim women focused on care, community, and wellness.
Mian Akram, Ayesha, "Politics of Resistance: On Muslim Women Advancing a Collective Critical Faith-Based Epistemic" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 9185.