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ERIC Number: EJ1096429
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0362-6784
Mirages in the Desert: Theorizing Western Muslim Identity across 60 Years
El-Sherif, Lucy
Curriculum Inquiry, v46 n1 p27-44 2016
Theorizations on Western Muslim identity that are multi-layered and grounded in actual Western Muslim experiences are hard to find. Two exceptions to this are "The Road to Mecca" by Muhammad Asad (1954/2005), and "Islam is a Foreign Country" by Zareena Grewal (2014), rich texts that span across six decades. Asad's classic account of a European convert's nested journeys and Grewal's historical ethnography of American Muslim student-travelers offer readers an opportunity to examine how theorizing Western Muslim identity has changed and to ask: How does theorizing Western Muslim identity construct itself? What does it construct itself against? What are some of the assumptions and contradictions that it tells us? In this essay review, I look at how travel, particularly travel as a quest for knowledge, has served as a way of becoming a sovereign human subject at home in the West through travel to the East. I argue that, paradoxically, Western Muslims may retrieve sovereignty through a process of becoming Western constructed against an Eastern Other. Juxtaposing Asad's and Grewal's writings shows conceptually similar blind spots that reveal the paradox of this pursuit of subjecthood. I argue that the strategies illustrated by the protagonists in the two texts utilize an Orientalist gaze within a framework of a Western human subject that entrenches the eternal Otherness of Western Muslims, even as it secures a Western selfhood for its individual subjects. In doing so, I seek to contribute to a broader debate in curriculum studies on anti-racism, decolonization and racialized minorities by complicating the frame of inclusion for equality.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A