Open Lecture

Nov. 21, 2018
Migration Institute of Finland will host an open lecture by Dr. Kathryn Spellman Poots on Thursday, December 13, at 13.00–14.15.

Diasporas in Transition: Islam, Gender and New Regimes of Governance

This paper argues that gender roles, gender relations and body politics have been key ingredients in the making of a so-called ‘Muslim Diaspora’. It starts by examining the rising prominence of ‘Muslim’ self- and group-identification in relation to the integration of ‘Islam’ and Muslim practices into Western states, both pre- and post-9/11. This includes the rise of political Islam, the monitoring of Muslim diasporic communities and the more recent rise of anti-Islam rhetoric in the post-Brexit and Trump era. It shows how culturalised notions of ‘good Muslim’/‘bad Muslim’ have been instrumentalised by new regimes of governance and Islamist groups to control women’s bodies and protect dominant gender ideologies. In an era of blatant Islamophobia and rising male centred authoritarianism, the paper contends that women’s advocacy and activist practices face new challenges in navigating the best avenues to push forth their agendas both locally and transnationally. It calls for a renewed sensitivity to local contexts within studies of transnationalism, and greater attention to the obstacles that relate to shifting communal boundaries and specific political, social and material logics within diasporic communities.

Kathryn Spellman Poots is a Visiting Associate Professor at Columbia University and Academic Program Director for the MA in Islamic Studies. She is also Associate Professor at Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations in London. Kathryn convenes Columbia's MA core course: Foundation to Islamic Studies and Muslim Societies. Her research interests include Muslims in Europe and North America, the Iranian diaspora, transnational migration and gender studies.

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