Islamic Cultural Diasporas: The Return to Religion as a Counter-Cultural Strategy

Haideh Moghissi
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Drawing upon an on-going research project, this paper discusses the impact of displacement on migrants and refugees from Islamic cultures in Canada. Separating the effects of cultural practices and beliefs from those of larger political and economic forces, it will identify forces external to diasporic communities (discrimination and racism which portray Muslim peoples as alien and strange) which create tensions between needs to adapt and the desire to maintain cultural continuity, as well as tensions between women and men in the process of adaptation. Identifying various variables (gender, age, class origins, religious attachment) which foster a readiness to change and those which reinforce nostalgia and resistance, the paper argues that cultural marginality and the fear of loss of identity lead some members of the diaspora to hold onto certain traditional values hostile to gender equality. Hence, the growing tendency among the Diaspora to identify with cultural values and practices of the originating country or an imaginary 'Islamic world', that are sometimes more conservative, unforgiving and intolerant than they were in the home-country.

Keywords: Islamic conservatism in Diaspora, Migration, Racism
Stream: Identity, Belonging
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Haideh Moghissi

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, York University

Haideh Moghissi, School Social Sciences, Atkinson, York University, was a founder of the Iranian National Union of Women and member of its first executive board and editorial board of Barabari (equality) and Zanan Dar Mobarezeh (Women in Struggle). Her publications include articles in refereed journals and chapters in edited volumes and following books: Women and Islam: Critical Concepts in Sociology (ed.) London: Routledge (2005); Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism: The Limits of Postmodern Analysis, London: Oxford University Press 2000 (Zed Press, 1999, winner of Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award) and Populism and Feminism in Iran: Women's Struggle in a Male-Defined Revolutionary Movement, London: Macmillan Press; New York: St. Martin's Press (1994.)

Ref: D05P0239