Islamophobia and postcolonialism: Continuity, Orientalism and Muslim consciousness

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In this article, Meer tentatively delineates three ways in which he understands that the concept of Islamophobia is being informed by postcolonial scholarship. The first functions as continuity, in so far as it is claimed that historical colonial dynamics are reproduced in contemporary postcolonial environments, broadly conceived. The second involves translation. This is related to the first but different in that it focuses in particular on the utility of Orientalist critique for the concept of Islamophobia. The third concerns an account of Muslim consciousness, in so far as it is argued that ‘the making of Muslims’ is signalled by the emergence of the concept of Islamophobia, part, as one view has it, of a wider ‘decentring’ of the West. Meer argues that this third framing rests on terrain that is also populated by scholarship beyond the postcolonial tradition. This is because it expresses a story of how Muslims have contested and sought revisions to existing citizenship settlements, not least the ways in which approaches to anti-discrimination are configured. This is a story that is observable within imperfect liberal democratic frameworks that contain some institutional levers through which to challenge Islamophobia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-515
Number of pages16
JournalPatterns of Prejudice
Issue number5
Early online date20 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • citizenship
  • postcolonialism
  • orientalism
  • Muslim consciousness
  • Islamophobia
  • identity


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