UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(re)Interpretation of politics of victimhood through subtle acts of resistance : narratives of the everyday life of a Shi’i Muslim community diaspora in BC Jafer, Waged


Based on interviews with members of a Shi’i Muslim community in Vancouver, British Columbia, this dissertation explores the politics of victimhood and subtle acts of resistance and agency in their everyday life in Canada. Shi’i Muslims who participated in this research reference the historical narrative of Hussein which guides their self-understanding as a group. As I will argue, this narrative has multiple meanings and can be understood as a vehicle for personal and community transformation. Insistence on remembering the story of Hussein, its representation, perception and symbolism creates a capacity for agency where remembrance is political and victimhood, a motivating force. In this study, I shed light on this aspect of the Shi’i identity in the diaspora, as I argue that amidst the mourning and the remembrance of the story of Hussein, agency and resistance take shape, sometimes in the most subtle forms in the everyday. In exploring the connection between resistance and identity of members of this diasporic community, I demonstrate that acts of resistance, no matter how small and subtle, when motivated by religious convictions, inevitably create religio-political identities. As such, these identities insist on active citizenship as a way to reject (re)victimization and marginalization as they seek equal recognition and equal participation as a minority within a minority in Canada. I illustrate this through stories gathered from the everyday lives of the participants in this study.

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