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#WhatBritishMuslimsReallyThink: Negotiating Religious and National Identity on Twitter

Title#WhatBritishMuslimsReallyThink: Negotiating Religious and National Identity on Twitter
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAeschbach, M
JournalZeitschrift für junge Religionswissenschaft

In the discursive construction of intra-national sameness, religious identity is often a key criterion for inclusion or exclusion from the imagined national community. In today’s Europe, the boundaries of individual nations are increasingly secured by applying a logic characteristic of Islamophobia and cultural racism. Therefore, the negotiation of Muslim identity and its intersection with the respective national identity category is of particular interest. In this study, the Twitter hashtag #WhatBritishMuslimsReallyThink was examined in order to analyze how members of the British Muslim digital community both construct and reinforce their collective identity as well as employ discursive strategies to negotiate British national identity and their national belonging in the face of exclusionary political rhetoric. Drawing on a corpus of 480 tweets containing the hashtag #WhatBritishMuslimsReallyThink, a mixed-method content analysis approach was employed to analyze the topics and strategies present in the hashtag discourse. Thereby, the issues addressed and the strategies of belonging employed in the Twitter conversation are embedded in a larger public discourse on British national identity and intra-national boundary making. This research investigates Twitter as a site of national and religious identity construction and sheds light on the contested nature of such identity categories.