As a scholar, Lalaie Ameeriar takes a deep interest in Muslim culture and labor migration. Her first book, “Downwardly Global: Women, Work and Citizenship in the Pakistani Diaspora” (Duke University Press), explored the plight of professional Pakistani women who emigrate to Canada only to find unemployment and poverty.
Now the associate professor of Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara will have the opportunity to deepen her research and interest in Muslim women. Ameeriar has been named a member of the Luce/ACLS Fellows in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs for 2018. The fellowship provides a stipend and will allow Ameeriar to take a leave of absence from UCSB beginning July 1 and spend a year at the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto.
“I am thrilled to have received a fellowship from the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism and International Affairs,” Ameeriar said. “The fellowship provides a unique opportunity to think about the relationship between scholarly work, journalism and the public and to put that into practice.”
In her project, “Saving Muslim Women: Forced Marriage and ‘Honor Killings’ in London, U.K.,” Ameeriar will collaborate with journalists at The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. covering global development for a series of stories on violence against women, focusing on the ways certain religious communities become marked, she said, “in certain ways, and examining how the rhetoric of ‘saving Muslim women’ gets mapped onto different populations.”
The new work will build on the themes in “Downwardly Global,” Ameeriar said, “by examining laws and legal protections surrounding forced marriage and ‘honor killings’ in London. An honor killing is understood as the murder of a family member in response to a perceived affront to the family’s reputation, such as the refusal of a marriage.
“From 2010 to 2014, the UK police recorded 11,744 cases of honor-based violence, yet only a fraction are prosecuted,” Ameeriar added. “In 2014, new legislation came into effect making forced marriage a crime and punishable by up to seven years in prison. Some argue that this legislation will deter women from coming forward because they will have to implicate their families in court. This project examines the ways that violence against women becomes equated with culture and religion, which is then articulated in law, policy and practice.”
Lisa Sun-Hee Park, professor and chair of the Department of Asian American Studies, called the fellowship a timely honor.
“The Luce/ACLS Fellows in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs is a wonderful opportunity for scholars working on these important issues, particularly at this moment in time,” Park said.
The Luce/ACLS program is designed to foster new connections between scholars and journalists covering international affairs. The fellowship supports scholars pursuing research on global religions who seek to connect their scholarship to journalism and media audiences.
In addition to providing fellows with a year’s leave to pursue their research and outreach efforts, the program also offers media training opportunities and hosts a spring symposium that brings journalists into dialogue with scholars to discuss key issues in international affairs. It is made possible by the support of The Henry Luce Foundation.