Youth Clubs as Men/Women Caves: Exploring an Emerging Muslim Youth Subculture Creating a New Canadian Religious Identity

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Mohammadi, Fatemeh




Second-generation immigrants in Canada are torn between different identities. Young Canadian Muslims on the one hand need to deal with their Islamic culture and on the other hand they are in constant interaction with Canadian culture. My doctoral research focuses on religious identities of second-generation Muslim youth living in Canada. I explore the understudied issue of intergenerational divide within the Muslim community. The intergenerational divide becomes obvious in the recent development of Muslim Canadian youth clubs, which are founded, and run by youths themselves. I examine the cultural, social and religious characteristics or drivers that are creating these kinds of formal/informal institutions as well as the challenges that these youths face in running independent programs. I participated in the programs of three of these clubs, one in Montreal and two in Ottawa, as well as conducting semi-structured interviews. By using ethnographic research, I compare and contrast the various social, cultural, institutional and financial factors associated with the clubs. This thesis examines youth clubs based on youth subcultural theories. I employ Steve Redhead's post-subcultural theory that focuses on subcultures shifting from political dimensions towards leisure. I also draw on Birmingham school's concept of resistance. I argue that in many cases Islamic centers, which have been formed and are currently run by first-generation Muslim immigrants, are not well suited to address the needs of second-generation Muslims. My research has indicated that this is one of the primary reasons for the rise of Muslim youth clubs in Canadian cities. Religious activities in the youth clubs are somehow different from the religious centers of their parents, exposing this divide in the Muslim community as never before. This dissertation examines how youth clubs are a major protective factor for youth and argues that a 'new religious youth subculture', which has its own type of style, resistance and religiosity, is emerging among second-generation Muslim youth. My ethnographic study provides insights on the subculture of these youth. Such an understanding is particularly necessary in current circumstances where intense debates concerning second-generation Muslims are arising in Canada, especially in the political sphere.


Cultural Anthropology




Carleton University

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