There are Muslims in Latin America?
This is the question I often get confronted with when I tell people what I study.
Yes, I study Islam and Muslim communities in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Latinx U.S. Yes, that is a valid field of study. Yes, it has a history you would be surprised about. Yes, the numbers are not as large as other places in the world, but they are higher than you think. Yes, the influence of Muslims in the American hemisphere is lengthy and significant. Let me tell you more...
In this essay, published by Springer's International Journal of Latin American Religions I offer a brief review of the field of Islamic studies in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Americas focusing on its main themes and suggesting some areas for further consideration and research.
The essay not only introduces readers to the topic itself, but outlines its main themes and suggests some ways that scholars could inject their energy and efforts to advance this unfolding field of study. These theoretical considerations suggest that more work could be done in expanding the field in its engagement with prevalent theories in the field of global Islamic studies and those that treat the Americas as a geography of dynamic hemispheric engagement and encounter.
Essentially, the paper argues that there is still a necessity to explore the tensions, interactions, frictions, and collaborations across and at the boundaries between the global umma (community) and the American assabiya (local social solidarities), between the global and the local, and between immigrant communities and the growing number of regional converts.
Finally, I also make some suggestions about some practical considerations that may prove beneficial to the field’s advancement.