Two cultures, one identity: formulations of Australian Isma’ili Muslim identity

Karim Mitha, Shelina Adatia, Rusi Jaspal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Shi’a Imami Nizari Isma’ili Muslims have often been considered the “poster child” for pluralistic integration (Cayo 2008). This ethos has been inculcated within members of the community, with its adherents seeing themselves as a diverse and multi-ethnic collective. Nevertheless, despite this purported pluralism, social research on the Isma’ilis has primarily focused on the diasporic and post-diasporic migrant communities of South Asian descent, the ‘first and second-generation immigrants,’ in the Euro-American context (Mukadam and Mawani 2006, 2009; Nanji 1983, 1986). The experiences of co-religionists in other contexts have often been neglected. This study examines how members of the self-described geographically and socially isolated Isma’ili community in Australia construct their identity vis-à-vis the larger, global, Isma’ili community, and how they have responded to the potential of identity threat given the arrival of another group of Isma’ilis with a differing migratory history integrating into the extant community. Using the approach of identity process theory, this study examines how salient features of identity are constructed amongst the Australian Isma’ilis, how religion and identity take on multiple meanings within the Australian Isma’ili context, and, finally, sheds light on the self-sufficiency of this community despite geographic and social isolation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-60
JournalContemporary Islam
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2017


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