Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World

Digital British Islam: How do Cyber Islamic Environments impact everyday lives?

A major ESRC-funded research project delivered by the University of Wales Trinity St David, Coventry University and the University of Edinburgh.

Digital British Islam

Visit the official Digital British Islam website here: www.digitalbritishislam.com

The Alwaleed Centre's Director, Professor Frederic Volpi, will be Co-Investigator on a major three-year research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council exploring how different forms of internet media are used within diverse Muslim contexts across the UK.

The project represents a partnership between three leading UK universities: The University of Wales Trinity St David, the University of Coventry and the University of Edinburgh.

More about the Project

The emergence of widespread and inexpensive printing technologies 200 to 300 years ago transformed social, religious, knowledge and political hierarchies within Muslim contexts. Access to inexpensive books eventually meant that religious (and other) knowledge was no longer out of reach for literate societies. This led to rapid change within many Muslim contexts: existing hierarchies dissipated, new ones arose, revolutions including feminist ones started, and regimes were overturned. Sociological imaginings within Muslim, and indeed, all contexts were changed forever.We are now in the midst of an era of even bigger transformation. Online digital technologies have been generally available since the 1990s and their impact on the social lives of religious communities (and indeed all communities) is as transformative as that of print media.

Set against this background, this multi-disciplinary team aims to undertake the first-ever exploration of the social impacts of digital activities that focusses on lived experiences of diverse Muslim communities in Britain. Digital British Muslims will map and interrogate the impact of the exponential growth of cyber Islamic environments (CIEs) on intergenerational transformations within diverse UK Muslim communities, and the extent of their influence on Muslim lives, societies, practices and beliefs. Focusing on changing narratives and experiences of religious authority, gender and political agency, this unique project will provide a platform for mapping, interpreting and understanding the diversity, interlinkages and influence of CIEs, examining reciprocal interactions between the 'digital' and the 'real'. The project themes provide scope to what is an ambitious project and are areas in which observable intergenerational transformations among Muslims in Britain have occurred - transformations that are catalysed by growing access to and reliance upon CIEs among Muslims in Britain.

The University of Edinburgh is proud to be partnering with our colleagues in UWTSD and Coventry University to bring our collective expertise to bear on the impact and influence of the digital on Muslim lives across the UK. Over the last two years, we have witnessed an unprecedented global turn to digital, meaning a project such as this has never been more important.

Professor Frédéric VolpiDirector, Alwaleed Centre, University of Edinburgh