Female Malaysian Muslim students’ experiences in the United Kingdom: piety and everyday life in Manchester and Cardiff

Ibnu, Ireena Nasiha (2019) Female Malaysian Muslim students’ experiences in the United Kingdom: piety and everyday life in Manchester and Cardiff. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the transnational life experiences of female Malaysian Muslim
students in the United Kingdom (UK). The research both documents and explores the
everyday lives of the students, reflecting on the challenge they face and the concerns and
pleasures they experience while living and studying in the UK. The research focuses on
two key themes. Firstly, it looks at the production of social space by female Malaysian
Muslim students and their communities in the UK. Secondly, it emphasises the ways in
which female Malaysian Muslim students sustain social space and social networks. The
thesis contributes to the literature on transnationalism, the anthropology of Islam and an
expanding body of work on internationally mobile students. It contributes to knowledge
in these fields specifically through its focus on the experiences of female Muslim students
– many of whom are committed participants in piety-minded forms of Islamic movement
and organisation – in a non-Muslim country. A further central aspect of the thesis
addresses how Malaysian students who are beneficiaries of government scholarships
handle the pressures and challenges attached to holding such awards while studying
overseas. The thesis is based upon multi-sited ethnography carried out in two cities in the
UK over the course of a twelve-month period. During the research, ethnographic
participant observation and in-depth interviews with thirty informants were carried out.
Analysis of my empirical qualitative material shows that senior students and the Malay
community in the host country play an important role in shaping Malay students’
religiosity and participation in piety movements. The findings also reveal that Malay
students’ experience is managed through an extraordinary range of institutions, rituals,
practices, organisations and spaces in a manner that provides the possibility both for
students to think actively about their Muslim selfhood and to learn how to handle those
forms of social and cultural diversity with which they are not familiar. Thus, the thesis
argues that, while these students strive to be good Muslims, they also wish to cultivate
the social skills required for life away from home. However, the situation becomes more
complex due to their status as sponsored students. They are called upon by the
government of Malaysia to act as the country’s ‘mini-diplomats’. Besides a commitment
to piety-minded Islam, this factor also results in the women striving to perform well in
their studies while simultaneously seeking to fulfil the conceptions of ‘good moral
behaviour’ advanced by the Malaysian government and their families. Nevertheless, in
spite of these complex pressures, female Malaysian Muslim students also regularly
emphasise their ability to develop alternative identities that reflect their individual
interests and concerns.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc > BP001 Islam
H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0848 Demography. Population. Vital events > HB1951 Population geography. Migration > HB1961-2157 By region or country > HB2104.6 Malaysia
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher education > LB2375 Exchange of students and scholars. Foreign study
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2019 09:06
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2021 08:20
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/85437

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