"Muslamic" Diasporic Identity
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Recent times have been turbulent for the perception and understandings of Muslims. The focus has been limited to their integration, with their functioning presumed to be outside of Western societies. This thesis makes no attempt to counter these ideas, as they inherently lack an agential understanding of Muslims, and provide limited understandings. As such this thesis recognises the Muslim diaspora as naturally agential, by focusing on styling and performativity. In doing this, Muslims are innately modern, active in mass media and popular culture. This thesis employs virtual ethnography and textual analysis to make sense and map out the identity negotiation of a London based, female-led, creative collective; the Muslim Sisterhood, through their online presence on the social media platform Instagram. Key arguments focus on the entanglement of the collective with Neoliberal values, exploring the commodification of Muslim identity, and the impact that this may entail for their cosmopolitanism, as well as solidarity. Ultimately, what is revealed are contradictions within the collective's existence. On the one hand they are community based, displaying diasporic cosmopolitanism through their commitment to inclusivity. On the other hand, there is a clear strive for neoliberal gain, and by competing they commodify the Muslim experience, and produce an idealised Muslim woman for others to aspire to. This only reaffirms Neoliberalism’s dominance, as a value system, and as such reaffirms the colonial history from which is was birthed. Regardless, this study refrains from making definitive conclusions, or seeking them out, understanding the need to defy essentialist, reductive dichotomies, highlighting the complex nature of life and politics. Instead Muslim existence, similar to other groups, is heterogenous, and as such deserves a recurring engagement with localised performances of identity to continue to contribute to such a vision.