, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 215-238
Date: 22 Dec 2009

‘Elite’ young Muslims in Britain: from transnational to global politics

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Abstract

Studies on the politics of young western Muslims have been diverse; however, radicalisation theory has achieved dominant status. As espoused by its key proponents Kepel (2004) and Roy (2004), this theory argues that young, western Muslims are being radicalised by the dislocations and uncertainties of globalization, and trying to forge a religious identity in a secular environment. Focusing on a cohort of ‘elite’ young British Muslims, this paper highlights an often overlooked current of thinking whereby sectarianism/localism has been replaced with a commitment to universal principles such as human rights and other global causes. This cohort of young Muslims was less ‘home-centred’ (i.e. transnational) than their parents’ generation and more global in political orientation, reinforcing the view that ethnic and/or religious politics and universalism are not necessarily counter-posed. This shift is explained as a process whereby inter-generational differences (in terms of aspirations and resources) have created a momentum for intra-generational cohesion across boundaries and peer-to-peer information transfer heightened by experience of major traumas, either directly or indirectly, and by new global communications. In the face of global traumas such as 9/11, the first generation’s localism and transnationalism is regarded as inappropriate to the new global context.