Contesting the future: Muslim men as political actors in the context of Australian multiculturalism
Author(s)Roose, Joshua Mark
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Abstract?? 2012 Dr. Joshua Mark Roose
In the period 2001-2011, Australian Muslims have inhabited an often hostile social climate characterised by extreme levels of scrutiny, public surveillance and pressure. Australian Muslims have been cast in the dominant hegemonic discourse as either ???at-risk??? of radicalisation or as a potential ???threat??? to Australian values. Young Muslim men in particularly have been portrayed as potential terrorists, criminals or misogynistic oppressors and as a problem that must be solved. The question of Muslim identity in Australia has clearly become a central pivot around which debate has focussed for both the place of Islam in Australia and the adequacy of the official state policy of multiculturalism. However despite the centrality of young Australian born Muslim men to these questions and an emerging body of literature, they remain poorly understood. In the past decade Australian-born Muslim men have sought to challenge dominant negative representations and simultaneously to shape the development of Islam in the local context. This thesis aims to understand how social influences interact to influence different forms of political action by Australian-born Muslim men in Melbourne and in so doing to reveal insights into the developments in Islam and its interactions with Australian multiculturalism. This occurs through the examination of three ???exceptional examples??? of Australian-born Muslim men undertaking political action. Muslim hip hop group The Brothahood have toured extensively throughout Australia and Asia whilst Waleed Aly has emerged as one of Australia???s leading public intellectuals, with his vast body of work published across national and international media, legal and literary journals. These young men have become successful political actors displaying highly creative and empowered ???project identities??? to challenge both racism and hard-line textualist Muslims, shaping the future of Australian Islam and multiculturalism. In contrast, the young men of Australia???s first convicted terrorist organisation the Benbrika Jama???ah displayed a disempowered ???neo-resistance identity??? seeking to commit an act of destructive violence against the State and were completely unsuccessful as political actors, reinforcing the hegemony of those they were seeking to challenge. This thesis is based on extensive fieldwork and unprecedented access to over 4000 pages of Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) listening surveillance device and telephone intercept transcripts. A Bourdieuian analytical frame is employed to reveal how key social influences interact as either enabling or disabling influences, shaping the development of constructive ???project identities??? and ???neo-resistance identities???. Enabling social influences and interactions include Tasawwuf (spiritually focussed) and traditional Islam, high levels of education, professional employment, exposure and familiarity with Western cultures, the multicultural State and an upward social trajectory whilst disabling influences include low levels of education, unemployment, welfare dependence, unskilled work, criminal activity, the coercive State and a downward social trajectory. These findings have important implications for understanding the development of both Islam and multiculturalism in both the Australian and wider Western contexts, revealing the intertwined yet contested nature of both, the benefits to Australia of a critical and robust political Islam and the centrality of hope and recognition to shaping constructive political engagement by Australian born-Muslims.
Roose, J. M. (2012). Contesting the future: Muslim men as political actors in the context of Australian multiculturalism. PhD thesis, Arts - Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne.