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Muslim Women and Agency: an Australian Context

Focussing on the little-researched area of the Australian Muslim community, this book brings together for the first time diverse accounts from Australian Muslim researchers, leaders, and community workers to interrogate how Muslim women understand, experience, and fight for agency.

Muslim women’s freedom, or assumed lack thereof, has long been a Western obsession. Almost never do we ask, what does agency look like to Muslim women? Who or what do they think constrains them, and how do they challenge that? Focussing on the little-researched area of the Australian Muslim community, this book brings together for the first time diverse accounts from Australian Muslim researchers, leaders, and community workers to interrogate how Muslim women understand, experience, and fight for agency. Academic and activist, personal and political, this ground-breaking book features the people at the centre of the debate.

We come to this book with all our intersecting identities, but most importantly we come to it as Australian Muslim Women who have been researching and writing about Muslim Women in Australia for over 20 years. As insider researchers we are acutely aware of the issues facing Muslim women in Australia not only from an academic perspective but from our own lived reality. We do not seek to speak on behalf of, or represent, any or all Muslim women, but rather we seek to grow the body of literature about Muslim women, particularly when it is written by Muslim women themselves, When we were both writing our PhD dissertations which looked at Muslim women and sexism (Carland) and Muslim Women and family law (Krayem) years ago, we remember feeling an urgency to get it finished as soon as possible. It felt like the window of interest in Muslim women and their self-determination would be open only briefly, and we needed to hurry up and publish before the conversation inevitably progressed and our research was deemed irrelevant.

Years later, we are not sure if we should be happy or sad to see we need not have rushed. The public discourse about Muslim women has barely evolved in that time; the same questions of and about Australian Muslim women are asked, often with seemingly little interest in response. The obsession with how Muslim women dress is very similar to where it was immediately after 9/11. The same old cliches about oppressed Muslim women circulate in the media and political discourse. While it is frustrating for us as academic-practitioners (pracademics, if you will) to feel trapped in an existential Groundhog Day, it also affirms the very real and continuing need for the body of work you hold in your hands. This book is the product of the eponymous The Agency of Muslim Women in the Australian Context Symposium hosted by the University of Sydney in 2018. This two day event brought together established and emerging researchers, community leaders and speakers to consider how Australian Muslim women connected with the idea and practice of agency.

About the Author

Ghena Krayem, Ph.D. (2011) is Associate Professor at Sydney Law School, University of Sydney, Australia. Since 2000, Ghena has been a legal academic teaching in the areas of constitutional law, public law and family law. She has researched and published in many areas to do with Islam in Australia, particularly focusing on Muslim women and Islamic family law. She has authored and co-authored a number of books relating to Muslims in Australia, including Islamic Family Law in Australia (Melbourne University Publishing, 2014), Accommodating Muslims under Common Law (Routledge, 2016), and Understanding Sharia Processes, Women’s Experiences of Family Disputes (Hart, 2021).

Susan Carland, Ph.D. (2015), Monash University, is Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellow at that university. She has published in both academic and mainstream publications about Islam and Muslim women, including Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith, and Sexism (Melbourne University Publishing, 2017).

Bibliographic Information

Title: Muslim Women and Agency: an Australian Context

Author(s): Ghena Krayem and Susan Carland

Publisher:BRILL

Language: English

Length: 240 pages

ISBN: 978-90-04-47322-5

Pub. Date: 01 Nov 2021

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