Contingent Universals and Shifting Particulars
Muslim revisions of recognition in Australia
Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University
Complicating the relationship between universal and particular inherent in conventional formulations of recognition as the acknowledgement of distinctiveness, this paper reads though the insights of two recent Muslim Australian cultural productions: Fear of a Brown Planet and Salam Café. I argue that inherent to both is a conception of recognition that is less about affirmation of particularity, and more about the interrogation of hegemonic national narratives that subordinate various groups. Such a conception brings recognition close to Judith Butler’s notion of contingent universality, in that it shows how claims for recognition disrupt the existing purview of the universal, presenting an alternate vision to take its place. If the nation is imagined as a contingent universal, I suggest that recognition claims are well-understood as attempts to transform the symbolic dimensions of citizenship, so that the particular bases of what masquerades as the universal are exposed, and new particularities included.
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© borderlands ejournal 2012