Being Muslim in the neoliberal west: reflections on an ethnographic study of Muslim women in Australia
This chapter is concerned with the ways in which recent neo-liberal policy shifts in Australia, especially around the American alliance and resistance to immigration, have impacted upon ideas of nationhood and processes of inclusion and exclusion for Australian Muslims. More specifically I will critically evaluate the ways in which a group of Muslim women from the South West Sydney metropolitan area negotiate their personal identity within the Australian neoliberal landscape. This chapter argues that the women informants both resist and contest hegemonic Australian national imaginaries which exclude certain groups including migrants, Muslims, and Aboriginals. Through an emphasis on religion and ethnicity as integral to their idea of culture and personal identity the informants in this chapter reinstate a sense of otherness from the Australia secular public space. Yet at the same time informants also resisted forms of exclusion by defending their place in the Australian neoliberal setting through their participation in the education and labour markets. The women also equated being Muslim and the practice of Islam as a vehicle for them to be productive and law abiding Australian citizens. Therefore the aim of this chapter is to highlight the ways in which informants negotiate and contest their identity in complex and fluid ways within the Australian neoliberal setting.