Muslim Feminisms: In and Against the Islam/Secular Dichotomy

Public Talk by Amina Jamal

15 September 2021

October is Islamic History Month in Canada and you are cordially invited to this year’s lecture sponsored by the ECMC Chair in Islamic Studies, the Department of Political Science, Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, and the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (MEIS) research group:

Public Talk by Amina Jamal
Associate Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University 

When: Thursday October 21, 2021 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM (MDT)
Where: Online Zoom Webinar. 

In many Western societies including Canada, Muslim women are seen to be perpetually trapped in a conflict between Islamic oppression versus Secular emancipation. This is a systemic form of Islamophobia that not only restrains Muslim women’s rights and access to services but may also motivate random acts of violence against Muslim bodies and the spaces that they inhabit. In this talk I want to draw attention to the scholarly, political and affective implications of framing Muslim women’s identities and political struggles within rigid and exclusionary constructions of religious/secular. Like all social actors, Muslim women negotiate with a heterogeneity of discourses of power, multiplicity of feelings and contending desires that constitute the very texture of Muslim lives and of their faith. I draw upon my interviews with Muslim feminists in Pakistan, India and Canada to argue that Muslim women’s collective politics and individual self-construction are responses to both disciplinary forms of secularism and bureaucratic constructions of faith. In particular I discuss Muslim women’s Feminism as an affectively lived and embodied activism that operates both In and Against the Islam/secular dichotomy to challenge Islamophobia, racial and gender oppression, as well as patriarchal dominance.

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