New Project - "Theorizing Islamophobia" - To Shed Light on Canadian Context

Updated: Nov 17

The Muslims in Canada Data Initiative (MiCDI) is pleased to announce a new research project funded by the Peel Social Lab: Theorizing Islamophobia.


People gathered outside at night with candles in their hands.
Hundreds gathered in front of University College in January 2017 to mourn the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting (photo by Geoffrey Vendeville)

Theorizing Islamophobia (and/or anti-Muslim racism) responds to the absent consensus on what the phenomenon is and how it can be better understood. Is Islamophobia a form of racism? Does that approach flatten the racialized differences within Muslim populations? Is Islamophobia synonymous with anti-Muslim racism, or does that unduly collapse antagonism towards Islam as a religion with antagonism to Muslims as citizens? Is antagonism to Islam a proxy or (even pretext) for anti-Muslim hate in every instance?


In addition to addressing the above questions, Theorizing Islamophobia fills a profound gap in research on Muslims in Canada. Considerable academic attention is given to Muslims in Europe and the US. Canada, however, often appears as a footnote to studies on “North America.” In fact, the study of Muslims in Canada too often relies on extrapolations from other regional contexts. While Canada is an immigrant receiving country like the US and European states, it provides a unique, rich, and diverse context that renders such extrapolations suspect. Precisely because the Greater Toronto Area has the highest concentration of Muslims in North America, research that centers on this region promises to enhance the burgeoning study of Islam and Muslims in Canada.


The project will be led by MiCDI’s Dr. Sarah Shah, in collaboration with their UTM students in the course on Anti-Muslim Racism (SOC408). Students will conduct interviews in collaborative research groups to address the intersections of Islamophobia and gender, race, sexual diversity, and geography. The project promises to engage students in real-time research, and contribute to the expertise of tomorrow’s researchers.