The MnM Centre was established to improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims by improving understanding.
Understanding is not simply a matter of gaining better knowledge or developing empathy but also changing the original terms of reference by which misunderstandings are generated. For this reason the Centre is committed to the development of a distinct analytical approach that focuses on understanding Muslims outside the prism of religious studies (such as Islamic studies or Quranic studies) and area studies (such as Middle-Eastern studies, Asian studies or African studies). Critical Muslim studies draws on and extends the insights of post-Orientalism, postcolonialism and post-structuralism in examining the assumptions of western hegemony, the political formations of Muslim and non-Muslim subjectivities and the unresolved imbrications of multiculturalism and racism.
What motivates this approach is the idea that understanding Muslim and non-Muslim interactions necessitates a critical analysis of the way in which ‘the Muslim question’ is constructed by the histories, geographies and cultures of colonialism and racism. One of the ways of conceiving coloniality is to see it as a framework in which the distinction between the West and non-West becomes the overriding dyad that structures the world. The reduction of the non-West to a residual category announced the subaltern position of the rest of the world as a lack in relation to the West. However, the relationship of lack between Muslim and non-Muslim politics, geographies and histories becomes crucial not only because it seems to mark out a volatile and violent border but more importantly because it opens up the horizon of an ambiguous postcolonality. Giving the non-West a name opens a decolonising horizon which is a way of re-orienting the world. This re-orientation points to the possibility of imagining a different configuration of the planet, which underscores the contingency inherent in the initial colonial ordering.
Some substantive research topics have included:
- Critical analyses of the politics of post-9/11 security contexts and its effects on Muslim populations
- Muslims in comedy television
- Everyday security in postcolonial cities
- Hindu and Islamicate thought in the formation of regional identity in India
- Analysing ‘violent extremism’
- Islamicate diasporas
- Muslim youth
For some illustrations of research associated with the centre, see our working papers.