Saba Fatima on being a Shia Muslim feminist philosopher

Interviewed by Helen De Cruz at Prosblogion.

Being Shia has certainly shaped my approach to social & political philosophy. I think one of the reasons that philosophy of race spoke to me so strongly was precisely because I grew up part of a religious culture that valued dissidence to authority. I found works & speeches by Audre Lorde, Stokely Carmichael, bell hooks, Malcom X, etc., very telling of how you move in a system that puts on the façade of being civilized while it oppresses its minorities. But I also found points of tension because there is such an emphasis on normative ideals in religion. Here, I find non-ideal theory to be most helpful. My social location has also helped me understand intersectional studies on a deeper level.

In terms of the subjects that I research: being a minority, you have to constantly be cognizant of how your work affects populations that are minorities in certain circles. Internal-examination can come at a political cost, because works by a scholars of color that are critical of the said community of color, can serve to legitimize the marginalization of that community by the dominant order.