race and racism
Our roundtable foregrounds space in its analysis of Muslim communities in urban Philadelphia (Kashani 2018, Stewart 1996). Known to many as “Mecca of the West,” Philadelphia is unique for its large and visible Muslim population, the majority of whom are Black American. Given this context, we ask how Islam shapes Philadelphia’s urban landscape and in turn, how the various cultures of Philadelphia shape Islamic practices and understandings of being Muslim in the city. Ultimately, this roundtable hopes to facilitate a better understanding of how space entrenches power asymmetries among Muslims and between researchers and interlocutors by asking: How are space and Islam entangled throughout the city? How do Islamic spaces subvert and/or reify racial, socioeconomic, and gendered hierarchies in the city? How do the spaces we occupy•both the sites of our research and the role(s) we take as ethnographer, participant, writer, and educator•inform our research? How does our positionality shape our findings and impact our interlocutors? To delve into these questions, we will focus on four case studies: A mosque, a school, a Muslim NGO, and a grocery store. By studying ritual, secular, and commercial institutions, we hope to show how Muslim Philadelphians imprint their faith on the city and how historical and contemporary forces inform the spaces Muslims are able to occupy. Our roundtable will identify the effects of local particularities on/of these spaces•such as geography, layout, demographics, and aesthetics. Moreover, we will discuss scholarly methods for supporting our interlocutors and their communities through spatial positioning.