Problems – of integration, failed political participation, and requests for various kinds of accommodation – seem to dominate the social scientific research on Muslims in Canada, the United States, and Western Europe. Beyond Accommodation: Everyday Narratives of Muslim Canadians offers a different perspective, showing how Muslim Canadians successfully navigate and negotiate their religiosity in the more mundane moments of their everyday lives.
Drawing on interviews with Muslims in Montreal and St. John’s, Selby, Barras, and Beaman examine moments in which religiosity is worked out. They argue that the ways in which people effectively navigate and negotiate a place for religion in their daily lives have remained largely invisible. From this vantage point, the authors critique the model of reasonable accommodation, which has been lauded internationally for acknowledging and accommodating religious and cultural differences. They suggest that the model disempowers religious minorities by implicitly privileging Christianity and by placing the onus on minorities to make requests for accommodation. The interviewees show that informal negotiation occurs all the time; scholars, however, have not been paying attention.
This book advances a new model for studying the navigation and negotiation of religion in the public sphere and presents an alternative picture of how religious difference is woven into the fabric of Canadian society.
This book will be of interest to scholars and students of sociology, religious studies, and anthropology, particularly those interested in Islam, Muslim life, religious diversity, multiculturalism, immigration, and secularism, as well as scholars in political science and law who are interested in those themes.
In sum[...]Beyond Accommodation offers a useful contrast to the more politically oriented approach of reasonable accommodation. It shows the potential for ethnographic research to highlight the local particularities of secular political discourses and frameworks and, in doing so, to productively critique representations of secular neutrality claims that tend to reproduce a kind of ‘view from nowhere’.
I haven’t read anything quite like this fascinating account of the lives of Muslim Canadians. It shows how their everyday lives involve multiple processes of negotiation and adaptation, even as they run up against both obvious and subtle barriers to inclusion and equality. It is empirically rich and theoretically nuanced.
The authors urge us to rethink reasonable accommodation, expertly guiding us to peer through the lens of the everyday lived experience of Muslim Canadians and showing us how they navigate their intersectional identities in ordinary and significant contexts. This book will have significant political and policy implications.
Jennifer A. Selby is an associate professor of religious studies and an affiliate member of the Department of Gender Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is the author of Questioning French Secularism and co-editor of Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics and Family Law Arbitration (with Anna Korteweg).
Amélie Barras is an assistant professor in law and society at York University. She is the author of Refashioning Secularisms in France and Turkey: The Case of the Headscarf Ban and co-editor of Réguler le religieux dans les sociétés libérales? (with François Dermange and Sarah Nicolet).
Lori G. Beaman is the Canada Research Chair in Religious Diversity and Social Change and a professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa. She is the author of Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity and co-editor of Constructions of Self and Other in Yoga, Travel, and Tourism: A Journey to Elsewhere (with Sonia Sikka), Atheist Identities: Spaces and Social Contexts (with Steven Tomlins), and Varieties of Religious Establishment (with Winnifred Fallers Sullivan).
1 Figures That Haunt the Everyday
2 Knowledge Production and Muslim Canadians’ Historical Trajectories
3 Secularism in Canada
4 Narratives of Navigation and Negotiation
5 Mutual Respect and Working Out Difference
Notes; References; Index
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