Royal Holloway History Department Research Seminar Series
Date: 27 October 2009
Professor Humayun Ansari (Royal Holloway)
‘Place-making, Identity and Islam: the Struggle to Create ‘a mosque in London worthy of the tradition of Islam and worthy of the capital of the British Empire’, 1910-1944.
Post 9/11 and 7/7, the mosque, as a socially dynamic and influential multi-purpose community institution, has come under increasing scrutiny as academic and political debates surrounding identity and belonging, the radicalisation of young Muslims, struggles for power within and beyond Muslim communities and policies on integration and social cohesion reach a new pitch. For a Muslim to feel at home or for a non-Muslim to recognize a Muslim space, the presence of certain Islamic symbols is important. In Britain, the construction of mosques has been part of a process of identity formation, a process that has become concerned with non-Muslim anxieties over visible and audible Muslim presence. By exploring historically the dynamic interplay between Muslim experience and the institutions of British society with regard to the efforts for establishing a mosque in London, this paper attempts to deepen our understanding of how Muslims have sought to establish themselves as an integral part of British society, through a specific kind of place-making.