Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Berkeley, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9541
Approve DateOctober 11, 2017
Project TitleIqbal, Basit K., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Transnational Formations of Islamic Humanitarianism,' supervised by Dr. Saba Mahmood
How is the notion of umma (Islamic community) contested, undone, and remade through the humanitarian practice of refugee settlement? The concept of umma opens a window onto the converging logics underlying the configuration of Islamic humanitarianism in the wake of the Syrian civil war. This dissertation project self-consciously steps away from the tropes of the so-called refugee crisis by engaging three distinct cohorts: 1) Syrian refugees in Jordan waiting to come to Canada; 2) Syrian refugees already in Canada; and 3) religious organizations and government offices catering to these refugees in both Jordan and Canada. These cohorts provide perspective on how settlement workers and refugees alternately depict Canada as an Islamic space of refuge and as a land of exile, alternately casting the refugee as passively subject to the mercy of the international legal regime and as actively seeking the mercy of a divine lawgiver. This fieldwork takes such alternation seriously, elaborating the discourse and practice of the transnational Islamic humanitarianism which makes the alternation possible. The scholarly literature has established that (ostensibly secular) humanitarian ideals address humanity (an ostensibly universal community). My ethnographic research asks how the transnational practices of Muslim humanitarians remake the notion of Islamic community.