With deep social and political polarization in both the United States and Europe—and against a backdrop of rising anti-Muslim sentiment, heightened politics around race, and the #metoo movement—how are Muslim communities in the United Kingdom and the United States making sense of and responding to renewed debates on gender, race, and securitization? With much that unites them, but also significant differences in their respective experiences, what are the key points of convergence and divergence in how Muslims in the US and the UK are thinking about the present moment? To what extent is it relevant to think of an emerging space of intellectual, cultural, and political exchange—a “Muslim Atlantic”—that encompasses these dialogues and debates?
With support from the British Council’s “Bridging Voices” program, King’s College London and George Mason University are jointly running a project to explore these themes and questions through research, writing, digital and social media, as well as other forms of cultural production.
The Muslim Atlantic project takes very direct inspiration from Paul Gilroy’s celebrated 1993 book The Black Atlantic. This seminal text provided a way of thinking about identities beyond national frameworks and, more specifically, exploring how African and Black culture, politics, economics and ideas were shaped through an interplay between African nations and communities and Black diasporas in the UK, North America, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and South America.
Our project explores the currency of Gilroy’s paradigm for understanding a Muslim Atlantic and for finding ways in which ideas, politics, culture, economics and spiritualities emerge and speak to each other between the geographies that surround this space of exchange. It is built around three key thematics: gender, race, and securitization—but with a cognizance of the fact that appreciating the intersectionality of these themes is crucial to understanding any of them.
Based on workshops, interviews, and broader community and public engagement, The Muslim Atlantic project has produced a series of reports, essays, online commentary forums, podcasts, and a special thematic issue of the journal Critical Muslim.