Conversion to Islam in “Multicultural” South Korea and the Struggle for Belonging
On 31 January, ISS21 and the Study of Religions Department hosted a seminar with visiting speaker Dr Farrah Sheikh on South Korean women's experience of conversion to Islam and their struggle for belonging.
Dr Sheikh presented the findings from a major ethnographic study on indigenous Korean Muslim converts, documenting their struggles for identity, community and belonging in a society that continues to place high value on homogeneity. Her research suggests that conversion to Islam and subsequent inter-marriage with Muslim migrant workers, poses several challenges to static notions of Korean identities and this society’s multicultural future. In the course of the seminar Dr Sheikh presented a detailed account of one woman's conversion to Islam, including her experience of being unexpectedly 'otherised' and finally ostracized.
Dr Farrah Sheikh is a HK Research Professor at the Academy of Mobility Humanities, Konkuk University in Seoul and a Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies, SOAS, University of London.