Political Islam and Masculinity: Muslim Men in the West

A lecture by Joshua Roose, Research Fellow at the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at the Australian Catholic University, and Visiting Scholar at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Muslims across Western nations had inhabited an often hostile social climate characterized by extensive levels of scrutiny, surveillance, and pressure. Muslims have been cast simultaneously as “at risk” of radicalization and as a threat to enlightenment values, freedom, and democracy. Young Muslim men in particular have been portrayed as potential “home-grown” terrorists, criminal thugs, and misogynistic oppressors and as a problem that must be solved. The “question of Muslim identity” and more specifically, Muslim masculinities, political loyalty and action has become the central pivot around which debate has focused for the place of Islam in the West and the adequacy of state polices on citizenship and multiculturalism. Despite the centrality of young, Western-born Muslim men to these questions they remain poorly understood. Even less understood is the relationship between social influences shaping Muslim men and the cultural, political, and intellectual trajectories of Islam in Western contexts. This presentation examines the reasons young Muslim men often from very similar social backgrounds are pursuing such dramatically different political paths in the name of Islam.

In particular, Roose will discuss the post-9/11 generation of young men who have left their families and homes to fight in Iraq and Syria. Roose has conducted in depth case studies of young three Australian men involved in suicide attacks and engage with shaping influences upon them including hegemonic masculinity, vulnerability, grief, dis-empowerment, social injury, anger and altruism. Roose makes the case that current governmental approaches engaging with young Muslim men and women across Western contexts need significant recalibration.

 
Joshua M. Roose is Research Fellow at the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at the Australian Catholic University and a visiting scholar at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School. He is the Secretary of The Australian Sociological Association. He has written numerous articles on Muslims in the West, Islamic law, and society and multiculturalism.