Islam and Young Bangladeshis
This is an anthropological study, involving field research in Bangladesh and the UK by Santi Rozario and Geoffrey Samuel, along with a research assistant. Sophie Gilliat-Ray will advise in relation to contemporary Islam. We will be studying young people in three main locations: rural Bangladesh (a village close to Dhaka city); urban Bangladesh (Dhaka city and Dhaka universities); and the Bangladeshi community in the UK (recent migrants, principally in Cardiff and London), through extended interviews and participant observations. We will also be studying relevant Islamic organisations, both through their writings and through interviews and participant observation.
Marriage and the family are central but largely neglected areas in understanding contemporary developments in Islam. They have been little studied in comparison with more 'dramatic issues such as terrorism or veiling, but they have much to tell us about the appeal of modernist and Islamist ('fundamentalist') versions of Islam.
We believe that one of the main attractions of modernist versions of Islam is their ability to offer solutions to the problems faced by contemporary Muslim families in a rapidly changing world. In particular, they provide a model of personal identity that refocuses the individual's life around a vision of marriage, family and community. If we want to understand contemporary forms of Islam, we need to focus on transformations of marriage and the family as much or more than on political factors or religious imperatives. Our study examines how marriage and the family are changing among young female and male Bangladeshis within and outside Bangladesh. We are particularly interested in how young Bangladeshis before and after marriage think of themselves in relation to their future or actual husband or wife, wider family network and community, and to the role that both secular, Westernised images of the nuclear family and romantic love, and new forms of Islam, may have in forming their ideas.
Economic and Social Research Council (2008-2010); Total funding £348,636.
Santi Rozario (Principal Investigator), Geoffrey Samuel, Sophie Gilliat-Ray.