Identification and disidentification in reported schooling experiences of adolescent Muslims in England

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  • Department of Neurorehabilitation Engineering, Bernstein Focus Neurotechnology Göttingen, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, University Medical Center Göttingen, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany.


Acts of terrorism, moral panics, and negative stereotypes contribute to racialised and Islamophobic ascriptions of Muslimness in Western contexts. In educational institutions such representations occur in the curriculum, in conflict between peers, and in prejudiced and discriminatory behaviour of teachers. For adolescents identified or self-identifying as Muslims in schools, these challenges have been interpreted as cues that prompt identification processes, such as identity declaration, internal seeking, and religification. This paper contributes to this theoretical framework by suggesting that the concept of disidentification may provide further insights into the multi-faceted aspects of Muslimness as a minoritised identity and individuals’ negotiation of them. Disidentification includes disassociation with Islam, and shifts in self-positioning in regard to representations of Islam and minoritised conferrals related to it. Using rich interview data generated with adolescents in England, we argue that different ways of self-understanding and self-representing a minority identity contribute to the contestation of Muslimness in the form of both identifying and disidentifying behaviours and discourses.

Bibliographic note

Special issue: Muslims, schooling and the limits of religious identity


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-595
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number5
Early online date4 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Oct 2017


  • identity , disidentification, Muslim, Islam, adolescents, schooling, religification