Standing on Guard for Thee: The Acceptable Muslim and Boundaries of Racialized Inclusion in Canada
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Civil society & citizenship, Discrimination, Islamophobia, Racism, Social justice, Stereotyping
Research report / thesis / dissertation

Kassam, S. (2018). Standing on Guard for Thee: The Acceptable Muslim and Boundaries of Racialized Inclusion in Canada [PhD thesis, University of Toronto]. 


“This dissertation traces the emergence of the figure of the Acceptable Muslim in Canadian public, political and cultural discourses, and illuminates the conditions for inclusion of such figures in the national imaginary. The Acceptable Muslim is perceived as a ‘good,’ ‘moderate,’ ‘modern,’ and assimilable Muslim, one who espouses a privatized faith with few public expressions of religious/cultural belonging. Against the backdrop of the racialization of Muslim bodies, Acceptable Muslims (re)confirm the racial boundaries of the nation-state, becoming passionate defenders of multiculturalism, whiteness and a global politics of Western domination. I theorize that the figure of the Acceptable Muslim sustains the narrative of the Canadian nation-state as liberal, democratic, secular, modern and inclusive, even as it relentlessly excludes, punishes and eliminates the Muslim Other. In this sense, Acceptable Muslims stand as sentries at the (symbolic) borders of the nation, reanimating the racialized boundaries of acceptability and signaling that those beyond the boundaries can be legitimately policed by the nation-state. The figure of the Acceptable Muslim is central in Canadian debates about multiculturalism, immigration, citizenship and secularism, contestations which often reinforce differential (and racialized) notions of belonging. For the Acceptable Muslim, the price of (conditional) inclusion is fidelity to the ideological goals of the Canadian nation-state.”


The Teaching Against Islamophobia resources were developed with funding support from the Law Foundation of BC, and the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies at SFU.


Image credit: “Vancouver Public Central Library” by GoToVan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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