[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2011.
AbstractThis thesis explores how Islamophobia is institutionalised in British universities.
Focussing on Muslim students, this question is largely explored through empirical
research using two case study universities. Each university was examined through key
university functions; namely, ‘ethnic’ monitoring data under the Race Amendment (2000),
union politics and welfare/observance provisions. The research involved semi-structured
interviews with Muslim students who were in some way ‘active’ on campus, as well as
university/union staff between 2004 and 2006. It also included some document analysis.
It is argued that Islamophobia is institutionalised through its govermentalising function
and is reflected in three key modes of ‘managing’ Muslim students; ‘absence’ (invisibility),
‘presence’ (hyper-visibility) and ‘inclusion’ (liberal multiculturalism). ‘Absence’
refers to the absence of Muslim students as a recognised collectivity within the formal
structures of the university. Thus, it is argued, Muslim student concerns about racism
fail to be formally registered and remain trivialised at anecdotal levels. ‘Presence’
refers to the hyper-visibility of Muslim students as a troublesome ‘fundamentalist’/’extremist’
cohort. This is exemplified through numerous historical and contemporary sector and
state interventions, but also in student union politics. ‘Inclusion’ refers to liberal
multicultural practices that regulate Muslim students. This is observed in equality
practices (e.g. university provisions) in the university and the way they function
to minoritise rather than equalise the status of Muslim students.What these modes
of governance emphasise is the way Muslim students are the subject of and subjected
to processes of racialised management, that is, regulation, discipline and normalisation.
Each of these modes are explored through interviewee accounts/documents, and (in)formed
by a recursive engagement with theories of racialised governmentality. It is argued
that together, these modes of racialised governmentality signify the transgressive
status of Muslims. They are also seen to reflect the broader political (in)visibility
of Muslims in Britain and their awkward place within British multiculturalism. Influenced
by ‘de-colonial’ thinking and activist-based research, the thesis has sought to develop
a critique of dominant and racialised discourses about Muslim students in universities.
This has involved the selective use of discursive techniques and a reflexive awareness
of my own positioning with research. It has also involved cognizance of the way Muslim
students and Muslim communities generally, have been perceived as ‘suspect’ and subject
to increased securitisation. In the main however, the thesis has troubled the equality
practices of universities and highlighted the way they are part of, not separate from,
the problem of Islamophobia.