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Abstract

This article explores ‘everyday’ or ‘vernacular’ conceptions of Muslims, Islam and their relationship to ‘British values’. Drawing on original data from focus groups in the East of England, it argues that the relationship is typically constructed around a series of binary pairings. Where Islam is held to be traditional, conservative, pious and outmoded, British values are seen as progressive, liberal, secular and modern. This opposition matters for three reasons. First, it is a contingent construction rather than reflection of realities; one that draws upon Orientalist tropes and militates against alternative ways of imagining this relationship. Second, it does important work at the vernacular level in explaining political dynamics, especially successful integration (because of British liberalism) and the failure thereof (because of Islam's traditionalism). Third, its predication on an essentialised claim of difference inflects even competing efforts to story the British values/Islam relationship which tend, we suggest, to reinforce the positioning of Muslims and their values as somehow beyond or external to Britishness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-245
Number of pages17
JournalNations and Nationalism
Volume29
Issue number1
Early online date15 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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