My current research on British & European Muslims

Social context: My work is a long term study of historical and social change in (covering the twentieth and twenty-first century) exploring "British Muslims" (those British born and/or naturalised citizens and others), and their mosques, in small town environments--particularly the seaside and resort towns of Eastbourne, Hastings and Brighton, East Sussex. In brief, I seek to investigate the lived reality and experiences of my study group (Muslim worshippers) and the response of local non-Muslim population and civic institutions. Furthermore, I will compare and contrast my findings with studies of cities in the United Kingdom and wider Europe. Seaside and resort towns have been seen as 'traditional' places of British culture, "Britishness' in terms of leisure provision, built environment, and ethnicity. So, the arrival of Muslims and others into these towns, since the 1990s, has a social impact, and is culturally noticeable.

Aims: In respect of 'Islamophobia', globalisation, and the 'war on terrorism', my research provides an alternative analysis to investigations focused upon British/European Muslims residing in cities and large urban environments. In particular, I am recalibrating the lens on British and European Muslims (negative stereo typing and integration issues) by looking at alternative perspectives and practices which are favourable and less problematic for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.                

Methods & Methodology: I have taken an interdisciplinary approach in this project, mixing sociological, historical and political analysis. The study is largely qualitative in content, though I do use statistical data supplied the Office of National Statistics. My methodology is participant observation, unstructured and semi-structured interviews and critical analysis of the literature. Furthermore, I critically examine local government documents and newspaper stories, as primary sources. At times, I will draw on oral histories of migration and re-settlement history dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

In respect of this, my research themes cover the following: (i) the institutionalisation of mosques in small town England, (ii) local Muslim community needs and want, internal community politics, and inter-communal relations (iii) the evolving nature of British citizenship, trust/distrust discourses and (iv) the affect of social and cultural change on the local non-Muslim community and their responses.