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Vol. 2 No. 1 (2024): Muslim Place(s) & Community Experiences in Canada
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The concept of community identity within the social sciences and humanities has been understood in a variety of ways. While some authors argue that there are no clear means of measuring a sense of community identity, especially for comparative analysis (Puddifoot 1995), and others have proposed foundations for the development of community identity, especially through shared discursive construction (Colombo & Senatore 2004), still others prefer to examine how social identities function.(Stets and Burke 2000) They do this with particular attention to the enhancement of individual and group well-being through social support and both collective efficacy and action. (McNamara et al 2013) 

Further, the concept of identity is highly situated, making space/place(s) highly relevant for discussions of Muslim community experiences. In “Wisdom Sits on Places” from Senses of Place, Keith H. Basso argues that “the self-conscious experience of place is inevitably a product and expression of the self whose experience it is, and therefore, unavoidably, the nature of that experience is shaped at every turn by the…social biography of the one who sustains it.” As Basso also states, “places [thus] come to generate their own fields of meaning… [by being] animated by the thoughts and feelings of persons who attend to them.” To a large extent, this experience can be shared to varying degrees by individuals who perceive themselves to be part of the same groupings or communities, especially when those collectives are subordinate or liminal to dominant cultural groups.

Within traditional Islamic discourses, there is not necessarily a term for group identity as it would be understood in a western sense today; rather, Islamic concepts of collective identity can be understood in (but not limited to) the terms of Ummah (or the global community of Muslims connected by belief, law and practice) and fard kifayah, or community responsibility and duty. (Wahb 2021). In fact, it could be argued that the entire normative Islamic worldview and ethos is one of holistic communality in a way that it is challenging for more individualized ideologies and societies to conceptualize. Ultimately, the social aspect of this requires that we parse community identity and experiences according to the places in which they occur and which they give life to/are given life by. The spirit of community in many Muslim locales and globally, however, has been shaken and even fragmented by forces of colonialism, neo-liberalism and others such that a sense of community identity and experience is, at best, muted and, at worst, absent. This process, of course, is neither consistent, nor linear and can fluctuate while being dependent on a range of factors including time, place, relationships, and so forth. 

This issue covers some of the following topics:

  • public space, 
  • community space, 
  • religious/sacred space, and 
  • domestic space, 
  • questions of belonging and “ the stranger” in Islam, specifically in relation to kinship in the midst of dis/placement and/or dis/citizenship,
  • local, regional, national, and global community identity, experiences and discussions,
  • as well as examinations of how group and individual identity interact. 

Insights from a broad spectrum of areas have been welcomed including philosophy, digital humanities & media studies, history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, literature, and others. 

Published: 2024-07-03
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Welcome to the homepage of the Religious and Socio-Political Studies Journal (RSSJ)! We are committed to providing a platform for inter-disciplinary academic research on Muslims in Canada. We accept submissions from researchers working in the fields of sociology, history, religious studies, political science, education, psychology and media studies. Our peer-reviewed journal is intended to develop and contribute to wider critical conversations on Muslims in Canada. We remain open-access as part of our commitment to making relevant research available to community organizations and grassroots leadership who may benefit from our publications. 

The RSSJ helps develop a clearer picture of Muslim communities in Canada, their issues, challenges and priorities. Muslim communities in Canada deserve deeper scholarly work than the over-represented subjects of securitization and de/radicalization offer. We  amplify the voices of Muslims through research to get at the heart of otherwise under-studied topics. 

Our inaugural special issue in time for the 50th anniversary of Multiculturalism in Canada, October 2021, will tackle questions of identity, diversity, integration and more. Call for Papers to follow soon!