Within western political, media and academic discourses, Muslim communities are predominantly seen through the prism of their Islamic religiosities, yet there exist within diasporic communities unique and complex secularisms. Drawing on detailed interview and ethnographic material gathered in the UK, this book examines the ways in which a form of secularism - ’non-Islamiosity’ - amongst members of the Iranian diaspora shapes ideas and practices of diasporic community and identity, as well as wider social relations. In addition to developing a novel theoretical paradigm to make sense of the manner in which diasporic communities construct and live diasporic identity and consciousness in a way that marginalises, stigmatises or eradicates only ’Islam’, Secularism and Identity shows how this approach is used to overcome religiously inculcated ideas and fashion a desirable self, thus creating a new space in which to live and thereby attaining ’freedom’. Calling into question notions of anti-Islamism and Islamophobia, whilst examining secularism as a means or mechanism rather than an end, this volume offers a new understanding of religion as a marker of migrant identity. As such it will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology and political science with interests in migration and ethnicity, diasporic communities, the sociology of religion and emerging forms of secularism.
Reza Gholami is Lecturer in the Sociology of Education at Middlesex University, UK.
’By investigating Muslim diasporic modes of the secular Gholami redresses the tendency of most research on Muslim minorities in Europe which overemphasises their Islamic dimension. At the same time, he successfully challenges simplistic dichotomies of devout versus secular Muslims.’ Oliver Scharbrodt, University of Chester, UK ’This comprehensive and readable book is a major contribution and addition to the growing literature on Iranian and Muslim immigrants in diaspora, and a valuable book for anyone concerned with the complex relationships between migration, religion, diaspora, identity, and secularism.’ Mohsen M. Mobasher, University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), USA ’Muslim heritage diasporas in the UK especially are often presumed to be un-problematically religious. Reza Gholami’s interesting study of the Iranian middle class in London successfully challenges such ideas and contributes to a new body of work on secular and non-religious identifications. Combining cultural theory with ethnographic vignettes, he shows how contested discourses of modernity, freedom and anti-religion have all been imaginatively reconstructed in media, art and everyday practices across the generations.’ SeÃ¡n McLoughlin, University of Leeds, UK