The Shaping of Generation M: Muslim Millennial Responses to the Rise of Islamophobia in Literature and Cultural Production

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Moussoud, Safa
Muslim Literature , Muslim Youth Culture , War on Terror , Cultural Production , Millennial Generation , Cultural Trauma
This dissertation offers a retrospective examination of the two decades following 9/11 and the declaration of the war on terror from a Muslim millennial point of view. I explore the surge of Muslim literary and cultural production by the millennial generation and suggest that young North American Muslims have been shaping a new Muslim cultural landscape in response to the Islamophobia they witnessed growing up during the ongoing war on terror. Drawing upon theories of cultural trauma and generational consciousness as well as recent scholarship on “The 9/11 Generation,” I argue that the hostile sociopolitical terrain in which young Muslims came of age triggered a cultural trauma that unified them as a distinctive generation that is spiritually connected, socially engaged, and politically aware. In that sense, I regard narratives by Muslim millennials as testimonies of cultural memory and resistance. I explore literary and multimedia texts by North American Muslim authors and artists that centre on their Muslim characters’ adolescent years and suggest that these texts are informed by new Muslim identity politics. I focus my reading on the relationship between identity and social space and demonstrate that young Muslim characters develop their identities in relation to the socially and culturally contradictory spaces they inhabit: the Muslim home, the public education system, and the internet. Through tracing recurring themes in my selected texts, I highlight pivotal experiences during the Muslim characters’ coming-of-age journeys that present them with spiritual and existential conflicts but ultimately strengthen their ties with Islam. I emphasize that the diverse Muslim characters that I discuss are traumatized, flawed, spiritual, and human. Most importantly, they cannot be reduced to notions of “good” or “bad” Muslims. Ultimately, I argue that Muslim millennial authors and artists introduce new depictions of young Muslims that reflect the characteristics of the Muslim millennial generation or “Generation M,” counter Islamophobic stereotypes, and express young Muslim subjectivities. By investigating Muslim millennials’ empowering relationship with literature and cultural production, my dissertation seeks to illuminate the complex conditions that have given rise to this new generation of young Muslims.
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