Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Research Student: Nasir Mahmood

Photo of Nasir Mahmood

A critical ethnographic study exploring misrecognition of identities, Agency and belonging in the lives of adult British Pakistani Muslims in educational and social contexts.

Submission date not yet agreed.

In the aftermath of 9/11 and 7/7 events; Muslims consciousness has increasingly been objectified in terms of their identities, agency and belonging as segregated, scripted, disloyal, related to terrorism in political, social policy, and educational debates. Historically, Muslim Asian female identities and agency have been pitched as caught between two cultures, coming from educationally low aspirants’ families, have now been framed as oppressed and “over-determined” in terms of negotiating religion in their identities. Whereas Asian Muslim male masculinities which were historically positioned as effeminate; have now been cast as disloyal and “new folk devils”. However, in such dominant narrations; it is the pluralism and complexity of British Pakistani Muslim consciousness, which is not foregrounded and remains largely unrecognized in educational and social policy debates.

Therefore the interrogation and counter narration of master narratives about British Asian Muslim (Pakistani) consciousness from participants’ and normative theoretical perspectives is vital to provoking critical debate and re-imagining of the category and contexts specific equalities around identities and belonging in Britain.

My research asks:

  • What does it mean for individuals to be British Muslims and British Pakistanis?
  • How do they position their identities mediating their educational and social experiences?
  • What is the nature of their agency in mediating these experiences?
  • What kind of belonging do they enjoy in their educational and social worlds?
  • How have they discussed their femininities and masculinities?

I use misrecognition theory in building a critical argument about identities, agency and belonging through four case studies of adult British Pakistani Muslims both male and female. Each life history case study data was collected using four informal conversational interviews situated in emergence, provocative and reflexive modalities. My Research draws and contributes to

  1. Misrecognition theory
  2. Ethnographic life history case study methodology
  3. Citizenship debates on Britishness, Re-thinking of multiculturalism and secularism on issues of gender, ethnicity, race and religion in educational and social policy


I am a teacher researcher from ethnic minority background with particular interest in Critical ethnographic research. I come from working class background and have taught in the most dis-advantaged areas of Pakistan before coming to the UK.

After coming to the UK in 2005; I worked in secondary schools as an EAL/Inclusion support tutor for more than 8 years. I completed my Master degree in Education Policy from University of Sheffield. In 2013 I was awarded ESRC +3 scholarship to do my PhD in School of Education at Leeds.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

My classroom encounters as a teacher with Ethnic minority students about their experiences of diversities and equalities in schools greatly shaped my embodied premise of research problem around identities.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

I have always remained keen to research critical questions around the cultural politics of diversities, equalities in educational and social policy areas.

As a researcher I have remained passionate in critical ethnographic emic perspectives, engaging in the fieldwork to study how master narratives can be challenged and re-positioned from participants’ and normative theoretical perspectives to argue for fairness and justice in societies. My current research around educational and social experiences of identities, agency and belonging of British Pakistani Muslims is one such critical ethnographic window on cultural politics of education and belonging in Britain.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

I am committed to developing a career in teaching and research to my long-term pursuit for developing context and category specific resources and theoretical contributions towards critical pedagogy, multicultural education and social inclusion research.

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