Ambiguous positionalities: Bangladeshi migrant men in The Hague

Mohammad Ibrahim Khalad

Research output: Working paperAcademic

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In the context of post 9/11, Muslim migrant men in the Europe come under
scrutiny where their masculinity is perceived as problematic. They are seen as
patriarchal, traditional and conservative within their family, and as potential
political/terrorist threat for the society. With this context in mind, this research
wishes to understand how Bangladeshi migrant men in The Hague,
Netherlands, experience process of marginalisation resulting from the post
9/11 perceptions. I have argued that the process of marginalisation for
Bangladeshi migrant men in The Hague is embedded in the intersection of
gender, race, colour, class, religion and ethnicity. However, these intersections
are uneven, complex and dynamic. Power relations and identities that give
them advantage is one context, make them vulnerable in another context.
Their darker skin colour and South Asian facial features, for example, save
them from direct Islamophobia. Their low-class position protects them from
direct competition with white Dutch men. However, once their religious
affiliations are disclosed, they are shunned by Dutch neighbours, and their
socio-economic position brings them in competition with other migrants.

I have focused on three social spheres – the workplace, the family and the
wider Dutch society – to understand positionality of Bangladeshi migrant men
in relation to other migrant communities as well as white Dutch men. The
results of my research show an ambiguous and complex scenario where
Bangladeshi migrant men take part in some racist discourses of Dutch society
while rejecting others, create negative stereotypes of other migrant
communities while claiming some similarities with them, question family
dedication of other Muslim communities while going to their mosque.
Furthermore, Bangladeshi migrant men negotiate their marginalised
masculinity by stressing their breadwinner role, good manners and family
dedication, and judge themselves better family men than other migrant and
white Dutch men.

At the same time, Bangladeshi migrant men live in a ‘Bangladesh bubble’
where their life is organised around links and relationships with people from
Bangladesh, and with other Bangladeshi migrants. While this means a
(self)isolation from Dutch society, this bubble allows them to ignore
hegemonic notions and practices of white Dutch masculinity in Netherlands,
and creates their own ideals of masculinity. Ultimately, they stood out as ideal
men, better than white Dutch and other migrants.

This showed us that the process of marginalisation is context specific.
Men from different position face and negotiate marginalisation differently.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers. General series


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


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