The Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (IRDP), an initiative of the Center for Race & Gender, focuses on a systematic and empirical approach to the study of Islamophobia and its impact on the American Muslim community. Led by Dr. Hatem Bazian, the IRDP highlights research and projects that explore the maintenance and extension of existing power paradigms by bringing together academics, thinkers, practitioners and researchers from around the globe who engage, question and challenge the existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations.
Today, Muslims in the U.S., parts of Europe, and around the world have been transformed into a demonized and feared global “other,” subjected to legal, social, and political discrimination. Newspaper articles, tv shows, books, popular movies, political debates, and cultural conflicts over immigration and security produce ample evidence of the stigmatization of Islam within dominant culture. The challenge for understanding the current cultural and political period centers on providing a more workable and encompassing definition for the Islamophobia phenomenon, a theoretical framework to anchor present and future research, and a centralized mechanism to document and analyze diverse data sets from around the U.S. and in comparison with other areas around the world.
The term “Islamophobia” was first introduced as a concept in a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report and defined as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” The term was coined in the context of Muslims in the UK in particular and Europe in general, and formulated based on the more common “xenophobia” framework.
The report pointed to prevailing attitudes that incorporate the following beliefs:
- Islam is monolithic and cannot adapt to new realities
- Islam does not share common values with other major faiths
- Islam as a religion is inferior to the West.
It is archaic, barbaric, and irrational.
- Islam is a religion of violence and supports terrorism.
- Islam is a violent political ideology.
For the purposes of anchoring the current research and documentation project, we provide the following working definition:
Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilizational rehab” of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise). Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.
The Islamophobia Studies Journal (ISJ) is a bi-annual publication that focuses on the critical analysis of Islamophobia and its multiple manifestations in our contemporary moment. ISJ is an interdisciplinary and multi-lingual academic journal that encourages submissions that theorizes the historical, political, economic, and cultural phenomenon of Islamophobia in relation to the construction, representation, and articulation of “Otherness.” The ISJ is an open scholarly exchange, exploring new approaches, methodologies, and contemporary issues.
Islamophobia Studies Journal, Fall 2015, Volume 3, Issue 1
EXCERPT FROM EDITORIAL STATEMENT:
The way to evaluate and approach the American Muslim community in the current period should be approached within a prison-prisoner lens. Here, the ability to move around and enjoy privileges should not be confused with freedom, equality, constitutional rights, and dignity in the full sense of the word. Let us be honest for a moment and detail the Muslim predicament in today’s America: a community subject to structured governmental control, surveillance, entrapment schemes, guilt by association, and punitive measures instituted to elicit “correct” conduct and proper political and religious speech.
Take for example, the levels of intrusion into Muslim religious space, whereby the government admits to deploying informants and monitoring leaders within these institutions. Religious freedom becomes vacuous if government intrusion is constant and presumption of guilt without evidence is how the Muslim community is regulated and controlled. The introduction in the US of CVE programs and Prevent in England are symptoms of the prisoner-prison relationship. The key question: What other community in the US has such programs to prevent and counter extremism?
University of California, Berkeley
Co-Founder, Zaytuna College
California College of the Arts
Islamophobia Studies Journal Archive:
IRDP hosts an annual international conference at UC Berkeley highlighting cutting edge research in Islamophobia Studies. These convergences include an active local and global network of academics, community researchers, advocates, and artists who cultivate an important space for intellectual exchange.