This article argues that Muslim Australian women are refusing the expectations of both state and religious leadership around how to respond to Islamophobia in Australia. In the wake of policies and rhetoric that disproportionately discriminate against Muslims, local government has partnered with Islamic Australian religious organizations to create initiatives that aim to both publicly show that Muslims are not threats to the social fabric and to reform attitudes within communities around gender equality and family life. Muslim women are seen as key to these emergent partnerships; they are often called upon to change public representations about Islam and to take a lead role in internally reforming their community's attitudes about gender and family. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Melbourne, I examine how one collective of Muslim Australian women has resisted these expectations, through enacting an anti-Islamophobia politics that refuses to replace negative stereotypes of Muslims with positive ones, or to speak for all Muslim Australians. Rather, they situate Islamophobia as a lens to understand how Australian assimilationist projects serve the settler colonial national imaginary. In the process, they reveal Islamophobia as not only a problem of the misrepresentation of Muslims, but as an ongoing legacy of Australian settler colonialism. Their work offers a political alternative for thinking about what an inclusive anti-Islamophobia politics could look like in contemporary Australia.


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pp. 111-135
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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