Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World
(Stanford University Press, 2020) by Tahseen Shams (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto) reconceptualizes the homeland-hostland dyad. Drawing from the experiences of diasporic South Asian Muslim community in America, namely Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Indians, Shams introduces an innovative conceptual notion of “elsewhere” which informs her new multicentered approach to the study of globalized immigrant identities. Using ethnographic study, social media analysis, and autoethnographic reflections, she provocatively highlights how for her varied participants, their identities as South Asian Muslim Americans were not only informed by their perception of sending and receiving countries, but also was defined by societies beyond these nation states, especially those that defined their sense of an ummatic connection, such as to countries in the Middle East. In such instances, affinities to elsewhere informed South Asian American Muslim’s political and social mobilizations, such as during American presidential elections or in their other social justice involvement. At the same time, other elsewhere events, such as an ISIS attack in a European country, further altered their experiences as Muslims in America. The conceptual paradigm of “elsewhere” in this study productively shifts homeland-hostland dynamics beyond a simple binary and further challenges us to rethink how homeland politics, global Muslim events, and hostland reception dynamics complicate diasporic identity formation in a globalized and transnational context. This book will be of interest to those who work on international migration, diaspora studies, South Asian Islam, and Islam in America.
Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. Her research areas are on contemporary Sufism in North America and South Asia. She is the author of
Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism (Bloombsury Press, 2018) and a co-author of
Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2017). More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org