Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) "I Am Not Who You Think I Am": Multiple, Hybrid and Racialized Identities of Canadian Muslim Youth in the Negotiation of Belonging and Citizenship (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

285P (see Poster Gallery) "I Am Not Who You Think I Am": Multiple, Hybrid and Racialized Identities of Canadian Muslim Youth in the Negotiation of Belonging and Citizenship

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Aamir Jamal, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Clive Baldwin, PhD, Professor, St. Thomas University, Fredricton, NB, Canada
Wasif Ali, PhD, Sessional Instructor and Research Assistant, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Swati Dhingra, Masters, Research Coordinator, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Background and Purpose: This study explores identity construction among Canadian Muslim youth (CMY). While there have been studies exploring the challenges faced by Muslim youth in the west, this study particularly focuses on the development of a meaningful a stable Canadian-Muslim identity in an era of global conflicts, collective surveillance, and suspicion. Identity-formation is a complex process involving the configuration of many influences – direct and indirect, local and global, personal and impersonal. Sometimes aspects of fluid, multiple identities conflict and an individual is faced with having to navigate competing and not necessarily commensurable influences. “Canadian Muslim Youth: Identity Construction in the Context of Global Conflicts” project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project consists of three phases, at this point, study findings are being shared with broader audiences through conferences and forums and peer review research papers.

Methods: The insights of this study derive from 30 in-depth interviews with Muslim youth from three Canadian metropolitan cities. Participants were identified through social networks, mosques, community organizations, schools and universities in Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver, with 10 participants from each location. Convenient and snowball strategies of data collection were applied with attention to maximum variation strategy to gain a diverse religious and ethnic perspective. In all, we interviewed 18 males and 12 females between the ages 18 and 30, belonging to a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and coming from various countries of origin including Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Palestine, and Turkey. Narrative inquiry, located within the constructionist framework, has developed as a means of exploring lived experience, making sense, communication, and the interplay of individual and social, cultural and discoursal factors.

Findings: Thematic analysis of 30 interviews with CMY from Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, identified five major themes: a) The journey of navigating multiple, complex, and hybrid identities; b) Religious identity and spirituality; c) ‘I am not what you think I am’ - Media portrayals of Muslims; d) Claiming inclusion and belonging in the face of anti-Muslim racism; and e) Recommendations. This research contributes to the literature on Muslim youth in western countries and supports a better understanding of the concept of Islamophobia in those societies. Listening to the voices of CMY will help policy makers, practitioners, Muslim communities, and organizations to develop strategies for positive youth development.

Conclusion and Implications: Understanding Muslim youth identity formation from the perspective of youth themselves has brought forward opinions on Islam as a religion and the perceptions about the Islamic teachings and Islamic way of life. Study findings will help the Muslim communities and organizations to develop strategies for positive youth development keeping in view these shared experiences and perceptions. Overall, this study will contribute to the public discourse and policymaking to address the pressing issue of Islamophobia by supporting CMY, reiterating the need for pluralism in Canadian society.