“The view ‘Down Under’": Australian Isma’ili Muslim youth and the quest for identity.
Populist media depictions of Islam as being at odds with the West in a ‘clash of civilizations’ have caused young Muslims living in Western contexts to feel increasingly pressured to establish their identity and allegiances. Whilst some may become apologetic, others may distinctively assert their religious identity as a sense of pride and celebrated difference (Jaspal, 2010; Mawani, 2006). Indeed, for young Muslims, religious identity is often intertwined with nationalistic and cultural identities (Anwar, 1998; Jaspal and Coyle, 2010; Mukadam 2003; Modood et al., 1997) which can impact acculturation. Given the diversity amongst the Muslim traditions, different Muslim migrant communities may experience acculturation differently. This paper examines the impacts of acculturation and identity amongst Isma’ili Muslim youth in Australia. Research on the global Ismai’ili community has primarily focused on the historical and sociological aspects of migration of the diasporic and post-diasporic communities, the ‘first and second-generation immigrants,in the Euro-American context (Mukadam and Mawani, 2006; Mukadam and Mawani, 2009; Nanji, 1983; Nanji, 1986). This study is the first to examine the self-identified socially and geographically isolated community in Australia, and how constructs of ethnicity, identity, nationality, religion, culture, and symbolic meaning-making are formulated amongst the growing youth population. The study also examines how these diasporic and post-diasporic youth relate to each other and develop salient features of their identity—how religious, cultural, and social factors influence construction of community-making within this religious and ethnic minority, and similarities, and differences, in these views amongst youth from the same ethno-cultural group but with different migratory histories. Building on the work of Moosa-Mitha (2009) and Mukadam and Mawani (2009), this study will demonstrate how religion and identity take on multiple meanings within the Australian Isma’ili context and shed light on the self-sufficiency of this community despite self-identified geographic and social isolation.
Citation : Mitha, K. (2013) “The view ‘Down Under’: Australian Isma’ili Muslim youth and the quest for identity. Interculturalism, Meaning, and Identity: A Diversity Recognition Project, Inter-disciplinary.net, March 2013, Lisbon, Portugal
Research Group : Self and Identity Research Group