Peer research with young Muslims and the politics of knowledge production

Anna Vassadis, Ameera Karimshah, Anita Harris, Youssef Youssef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to draw on the authors experiences as a team made up of both insiders and outsiders in order to investigate how an insider-outsider peer research method facilitates productive forms of research into the lives of young Muslims, and to contribute to debates about ways of knowing youth. The authors aim to shift focus from a common claim that peer research methods simply improve research about youth to more deeply investigate how they enable, as well as limit, the production of particular kinds of knowledge, in this case, about Muslim youth in Australia. Design/methodology/approach - The research aimed to explore how ordinary young Australian Muslims engage in civic life. Yet the authors were faced with the challenge of accessing and recruiting ordinary youth in times of Islamophobia, wherein Muslim communities expressed serious concerns about their voices being misinterpreted, misused and misappropriated. Therefore, the authors sought to utilise an approach of outsider-designed and guided research that was then shaped and executed by insider peer researchers. It is this research design and its execution that the authors interrogate in this paper. Findings - As well as affording the authors access and the elicitation of rich, complex and high-quality data, the approach also fostered more complex stories about young Muslim identities and experiences, and enabled the authors to contest some common and homogenising representations. It also allowed opportunities for fundamental issues inherent in these kinds of qualitative research methods to be made explicit. These include the politics of performativity and issues of positionality in the peer research process. The authors suggest that the insider and outsider approach succeeded not so much because it got the authors closer to the truth about young Muslims civic lives, but because it revealed some of the mechanics of the ways stories are constructed and represented in youth research. Originality/value - The originality and value of this paper lie in its contribution to a debate about the politics of knowledge production about young people and Muslims in particular, and in its effort to move forward a discussion about how to be accountable in youth research to the various communities and to one another in insider-outsider research teams. (c) Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268 - 281
Number of pages14
JournalQualitative Research Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Insider
  • Outsider
  • Peer research
  • Young Muslims
  • Youth research

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