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Title: Producing an Islamic institution : a London case study
Author: Moses, Christopher
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 7181
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis constitutes a case study of how an Islamic institution in London is produced as an object of knowledge. It develops an argument by Maussen about mosques in Western Europe, which suggests that they ‘do not have a self-evident, clear and constant meaning’. On the basis of a literature review, he points to how academics have shaped ‘the processes of the production of meaning’ regarding these mosques, something that has political consequences for knowledge. This thesis builds on his work by shifting the research focus to a specific example of an Islamic institution, and including a broader group of actors involved in its production as an object of knowledge. For this research, I undertook an ethnographic study of the institution, holding a junior position within the leadership as a way of learning about its everyday life. This material is complemented by other forms of data, such as research literature, archival sources, media accounts, Council documentation, Parliamentary proceedings, maps, images, and photographs. The thesis has three ‘threads’, which fall into six chapters. The ‘public sphere’ thread comprises three chapters, which look at the institution’s representation by and engagement with three sets of actors: researchers, state representatives, and journalists. A ‘community’ chapter explores local productions of meaning: specifically, how the community’s internal complexity shapes understandings of the institution. Finally, the ‘history’ thread comprises two explorations: perspectives on the meaning of its foundational moment, and its relationship with the history of its built environment. Each of the chapters offers a way of reading the institution, while there are also matters of internal heterogeneity, and further temporal and material complexities in its construction as an object of knowledge. The thesis conclusion proposes the metaphor of ‘palimpsest’ to describe the resultant complexity of meaning in play.
Supervisor: Jenkins, Timothy Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Anthropology of Islam ; Islam ; London ; Islamic institutions ; civil society institutions ; public sphere ; community ; history