Macquarie University
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Moral diversity on the straight path: perspectives on sex education, sexuality and romance among unmarried Muslims in Singapore and Australia

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posted on 2022-03-28, 18:13 authored by Lisa Siobhan Irving
This ethnographic study explores attitudes towards sexuality, dating and reproductive health among Muslim young people aged between 18 and 30 in the small city-state of Singapore and the Sydney metropolitan area of New South Wales, Australia. The intention of this research is to document how some unmarried Muslims of various ethnicities, gender identities and sexual orientations position themselves within local Muslim community discourses of piety, shame and reputation while simultaneously negotiating their position within the multicultural societies in which they live. The contrasting Asian and Anglo-dominated Pacific field sites chosen for this research illustrate a rich diversity of everyday Islamic practice. The purpose of examining this diversity is to highlight how some young Muslims go about individualising their faith and personal sense of morality in ways that reflect the wider social and political climate of their environments and challenge discourses that portray Muslims as being inherently more pious than other religious groups. Beyond exploring Muslim piety and religious ethics, which have already been discussed at length by anthropologists, this study instead explores the ways in which young Muslims engage with discourses of what sexual choices are open to a ‘good Muslim’ and argues that they accept, negotiate or resist those choices on a situational basis that is influenced by a range of factors such as experiences of discrimination and disadvantage. Using data obtained from participant-observation, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, this thesis seeks to meaningfully add to the emerging body of literature on everyday Islam with a unique comparative contribution to understanding the moral diversity that exists both within and between Muslim communities in Sydney and Singapore.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Keeping sins sensible: sex education in Singapore -- Chapter 3. Teaching and learning halal sex: sex education in Sydney -- Chapter 4. Prayers at Pink Dot: queer Muslim experiences in Singapore -- Chapter 5. The complexities of visibility: queer Muslim experiences in Sydney -- Chapter 6. Tactical intimacies: romance and dating in Singapore -- Chapter 7. Mixed messages: romance and dating in Sydney -- Chapter 8. Conclusion: the silent farts of everyday resistance anddiversity in everyday Islam -- Bibliography -- Appendices.


Bibliography: pages 253-289 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Anthropology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Lynn Wynn


Copyright Lisa Siobhan Irving 2018. Copyright disclaimer:






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