Presented by Dr Ryan Williams

In this talk I explore the processes of racialization among Muslims and the range of tactics they adopt in their pursuit of an authentic self. Drawing on fieldwork in English high security prisons, I detail how Muslims have intersectional identities that are fundamentally embodied which shape their experiences and practices. I begin by detailing the racialized identities of the ‘Black gangster’, the ‘White traitor’, and the ‘Muslim terrorist’ and then I illustrate how these are disrupted through particular tactics of resistance, adaptation, and pursuits for political selfdetermination. More than showing Islam as a vehicle for selfdetermination, I argue that self-efficacy pivots on a search for an authentic self: this search draws at times on universalistic and particularistic expressions of Islam and being Muslim (and forms of ‘strategic essentialism’), but it reflects more broadly creative, improvised, and embodied practices that rely on a repertoire of cultural and religious resources. I use these configurations and pursuits of an authentic self to serve the wider theoretical interest in ‘resistance’ as a ‘diagnostic of power’ and to foreground the embodied means through which racialized identities reassert agency.

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