Exploring anti-Blackness, Islam and Islamophobia at CFR series

York University’s Centre for Feminist Research (CFR) will host a lecture and workshop focused on the intersections between Islamophobia, race and anti-blackness as part of their Spotlight on Islamophobia series. The event, titled “Anti-Blackness, Islam and Islamophobia,” examines the complex histories and expressions of Islam in Africa and Muslims of African origin. The free three-hour event will take place on March 9 beginning at 11:30 a.m. in Room 305 Founder’s College Building at the Keele Campus.

The event will include a presentation titled “Islamophobia and Blackness: the view from Sub-Saharan Africa” from York University Associate Professor Zulfikar Hirji, and discussions with panelists including Hannah Ali, Fatimah Jackson-Best and Yusra Khogali.

Zulfikar Hirji
Zulfikar Hirji

Zulfikar Hirji is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at York, specializing in the social and cultural expressions of Muslims in historical and contemporary contexts. He was born in Kenya and lived in Uganda until 1972 when he immigrated to Canada. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in and related to the East African Coast for the past 20 years, focusing on knowledge production, identity formation and material culture. His most recent publication is an edited volume entitled Approaches to the Qur’an in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Hannah Ali is a graduate student in York’s Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies program, and a second-generation Somali born and raised in British Columbia, respectively known as the unceeded Musqueam territories. After completing her bachelor’s degree at University of British Columbia in psychology and social justice, she moved to Toronto to start her master’s at York. Ali’s theoretical interests are interconnecting psychoanalysis, psychoanalytical feminism, anthropology, decolonized psychiatry and Somali Canadian studies. She has also studied Malcolm X and the complexities of his legacy within Muslim communities.

Fatimah Jackson-Best
Fatimah Jackson-Best

Fatimah Jackson-Best is a public health researcher with a specialization in mental health whose work focuses on communities in Canada and the Caribbean. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Currently, Jackson-Best is a lecturer at York in the Department of Anthropology, and the project manager of Pathways to Care where she is designing an intervention to improve access to mental health and addictions services for Black children, youth and their families in Ontario.

Yusra Khogali is a daughter of a Sudanese diaspora from Regent Park, Toronto. She is a black feminist multi-disciplinary educator, writer, performance artist, activist, public intellectual, emcee and grassroots community organizer. She co-founded the Black Lives Matter Toronto movement that has shifted the current political landscape of Canada by actively working to dismantle all forms of anti-Black racism. Khogali also co-founded the Black Liberation Collective Canada, a Black student movement which works to create infrastructure for Black students around the globe to build power, using an intersectional lens, to eliminate anti-Blackness on campus. She completed her master of arts degree in social justice education at the University of Toronto Ontario Institute for Studies in Education with a research focus on Black diaspora, Black African, anti-colonial, Trans*feminist Liberation thought.

Islamophobia has become disturbingly prevalent in Canada, United States and Europe, and indeed has become a worldwide phenomenon. Often defined as a set of ideologies, discourses and practices that structures fear, hostility and rejection towards Muslims in Canada, substantial scholarship has illustrated that Muslim subjects face harassment, discrimination, and at times, violence, in their daily lives, in schools, in housing, in applying for jobs and in the workplaces. Particularly since 9/11, Islamophobia has become a subject of considerable scrutiny and interest. In an attempt to further understand one of the most entrenched form of racism, the CFR Spotlight on Islamophobia series focuses on key aspects of the social forces that shape and reinforce contemporary practices of Islamophobia.

This event is sponsored by York University’s Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and Its Diasporas and Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora. Previous events in this series have included an event exploring sexuality and Islamophobia and a talk on Islamophobia and the francophone context. A calendar of upcoming CFR events can be found on the Centre for Feminist Research website.

Those interested in attending the event are asked to RSVP by email.