The Everyday Politics of Countering Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Bias in the U.S. and India

Authors: Amy Piedalue*, Australia India Institute
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Gender
Keywords: social justice, South Asia, political geography, feminist geography, community action
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

This paper employs a transnational comparison of Muslim women’s community-embedded social change work to consider the significance and challenges of countering Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias through forms of social justice work. In particular, I look at the frameworks for gender justice and transformative justice emergent from women’s NGOs working with Muslim women and families in Hyderabad, India and Seattle, U.S. While these organizations sometimes engage in more visible protest politics (i.e. marches, candle light vigils), their work primarily operates through everyday, neighborhood and/or community spaces and intentionally avoids drawing too much attention from wider political parties, candidates, or debates. Yet this everyday politics of working with and from within ‘community’ leads all three organizations to both confront (intentionally or otherwise) the ways in which Muslim marginalization becomes entangled with women’s vulnerability to intimate abuse, and to seek pathways for intersectional justice that necessarily contends with structural axes of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias, such as urban segregation and economic inequality in India, or anti-immigrant policies and hate crimes in the U.S. Taking seriously the insights of this work, I also consider some challenges and limitations of building an everyday politics, which may not (seek to) present a formidable challenge to state power and state-complicity in anti-Muslim discrimination and violence. Finally, I consider whether these approaches to justice may build toward futures that are absent this discrimination and violence, even if their immediate impact on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias is difficult to measure.

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