Contesting Islamophobia in the wake of refugee resettlement

Authors: Lauren Fritzsche*, University of Arizona
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: refugee resettlement, Islamophobia, racialization, activism, belonging
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Contested meanings of belonging, identity, race, and religion have become amplified in the wake of refugee resettlement in Missoula, Montana. This paper explores the ways Islamophobia is articulated and challenged by members in the local community. In August 2016, as Missoula become a new resettlement destination, contentious debates emerged around refugees, religion, belonging, and identity. In responding to backlash toward refugees and discourses of Islamophobia, local organizations and residents actively seek to create a welcoming community in Missoula and combat discourses of Islamophobia. Drawing on qualitative research conducted in 2017 and 2018, this paper centers the work of local organizations in challenging narratives and enactments of Islamophobia through education, outreach, and local partnerships. Attending to challenges to Islamophobia in response to refugee arrivals reveals the importance of focusing on local meanings and histories of place and the intertwined relations between belonging, identity, and racialization in the contemporary U.S.

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