Islam and Postcolonial Literature – Edited collection of essays
Religion has long been a marginal topic in postcolonial studies. Robert Young has observed, "an absolute division between the material and the spiritual operates within postcolonial studies, emphasizing the degree to which the field is distinguished by an unmediated secularism, opposed to and consistently excluding the religious that have taken on the political identity of providing alternative value-systems to those of the west." In particular, Islam, outside the fundamentalist or extremist expressions, has been absent from critical conversations. Far too often in postcolonial scholarship—and indeed, in literary studies generally— Islam is identified as simply a form of oppression or as a vehicle for political manipulation. A tendency within postcolonial scholarship to link Islam with terrorism, and an overwhelming focus on radical manifestations of the faith, has led to a complete disregard for moderate positions within that faith community. Such critical formulations are obviously counter-productive: the absence of a range of Islamic subjectivities within postcolonial scholarship has created a void where misinterpretations and hostilities thrive, and where faith becomes synonymous with violence. This lack of discussion persists even as Muslim immigration to the West continues to increase and as Islam becomes an ever-more central part of modern Western life and culture.
With this in mind, we seek submissions which explore various depictions of Islam and Muslim identity in postcolonial literature. The possible topics include but are not limited to the study of
• the formation of Muslim diasporic communities in the West and the notion of resistance and integration
• the relationship between Islam and other religions in the West
• the differentiation between cultural and theological practices as well s local and transnational formations of Islam
• the identification of a range of Muslim subject positions—be they secular, moderate, fundamentalist, or extremist
• The impact of 9/11 and 7/7 in and on literary narratives
• gender ideology and female agency in Islam (including contested symbols such as the veil)
• sacred spaces and their influence on cultural practices
• Religions' challenge to hybridity
• secularism within the Islamic context
• the role of the ummah (the Islamic community) within the national/transnational space
• Islamic minorities in the West and the notion of the Muslim subaltern
This collection does not intend to intensify or indeed even enter into the sensationalistic debate about Muslim "allegiances." Nor does it aim to treat the Muslim subject as an uncomplicated, uniform entity. Rather, it aims to understand the impediments to the integration of the Muslim "Other" in the current cultural/political climate and analyze the way literature responds to such apprehensions through an empathetic lens.