Virtually Islamic Blog

Gary R. Bunt

Updated: Leadership, Authority and Representation in British Muslim Communities

Islam UK Centre, Cardiff. Leadership, Authority and Representation in British Muslim Communities

"This one-day conference brings together academics and activists to explore issues of leadership, authority and representation in British Muslim communities.  Who speaks for British Muslims?  How is authority construed, constructed and exercised in an age of mass media and the Internet?  What internal and external factors shape leadership structures and modalities of representation for British Muslims living as a minority in a culturally Christian but largely secular social context?  Where do leaders come from in a decentralised religious tradition lacking a priestly hierarchy?  How do government discourses and media representations impact upon dynamics of leadership and authority in British Muslim communities?"

The conference provided a good opportunity to interact with a variety of interested parties associated with religious authority issues, from authority platforms, mosques, research and academic perspectives. I gave a short paper on 'The Net Imam Paradox: Contesting Leadership, Religious Authority and Representation in Cyberspace'. The proceedings were recorded, so a video will appear on the organiser's website in due course. One particularly interesting point was the acknowledgement in the conference that social media is central to analyses of this subject area. This was made effectively by Faith Associates' Shaukat Warraich, when exploring aspects of 'Islamic futures', and also in his discussion on the forthcoming Muslim Digital Citizens Guide. This is encouraging, in terms of my own research/writing, in particular forthcoming projects that I have in development (to be announced in due course). The analysis of online activities has become central to discussions on Islam in the UK, so it was good to see postgraduates working in the field at the event (I also have postgrads in associated areas). Further information on materials associated with this research area will be highlighted on my blog and Twitter feed. The conference Twitter feed gives an indication of the areas covered yesterday: LARIslamUk19 I am grateful to the organisers for the opportunity to contribute to this event.



Shaukat Warraich presenting his paper [photo: G. Bunt]

Photo: 'Training Islamic Leaders in the West' Panel [photo: G. Bunt]

Photo: Amin al-Yousfi presents his 'Pac-iman' diagram. [photo: G. Bunt]

Tweet #garybunt