Us and Them

In Australia, cross-cultural research suggests that Australian Muslims have surpassed Asians as one of the country's most marginalised religious and ethnic groups.




Us and Them: Observations on Interfaith Relations and Cultural Harmony in Australia

Cross-cultural research provides exceptional insights into the hopes and fears of dealing with people different to ourselves. In Australia, such research suggests that Australian Muslims have surpassed Asians as one of the country's most marginalised religious and ethnic groups.

Muslims and people from the Middle East are thought to be unable to fit into Australia, with more than 50% of Australians preferring their relatives did not to marry into a Muslim family. Yet this statistic masks diverse interpretations of interfaith relations and cultural harmony present across Australia today.

In 12 essays Us and Them offers truths about interfaith relations as they are believed and expressed by Muslim and non-Muslim Australians. The essays are interdisciplinary and varied in topic, and seek to challenge the images of Islam held by both xenophobic Westerners and extremist Muslims.

Drawn from a variety of research projects over past years, including results from a national survey on attitudes towards Islam and Muslims among Australian secondary students, they also raise thematic questions, such as: Will any dialogue lead to a rapprochement between the Muslim and mainstream communities? What is Christian-Muslim diversity? Why does it matter? Can we really learn how to manage diversity in the workplace? Can the Shari'a law coexist with the Australian legal system on issues including polygamy, marital status and dress?

This book is essential reading for all students - secondary through to tertiary and postgraduate - requiring an introduction to Christian Muslim relations and attitudes in Australia.

Dr Abe W. Ata

Dr Abe Ata

Dr Abe W. Ata graduated in psychology at the American University and was soon nominated as a delegate to the United Nations' World Youth Assembly in New York. He completed his doctorate at Melbourne University in 1980 and has since been teaching in several Australian, American, Jordanian, West Bank and Danish universities. He has been an Honorary Fellow at the Australian Catholic University since 1999 and is currently at the Asia Institute Melbourne University.

His teaching and research interests focus in part on the relationship between the cultural and religious diversity and their impact on relationships, well being, attitudes and social distance.

His cross cultural training background, multidisciplinary and sensitivity in conducting and interpreting a wide ranging research projects are demonstrated in his publications of 15 books. These include: Bereavement and Health in Australia: gender, cross-cultural, religious and psychological issues( 1996); Christian and Muslim intermarriage in Australia (2005); and Us and Them: Christian-Muslim relations and social harmony in Australia (2009) - nominated for the Prime Minister's Literary Book Awards in 2010 . He has also written 102 journal articles of which 17 are published in the Encyclopaedia of Australian People (2000), Encyclopaedia of Melbourne (2005), and Encyclopaedia of Religions (2009, Cambridge University Press).

In 2011 Dr Ata was nominated as 'Australian of the Year'

Order this book:

Us and Them can be ordered online from the University of Melbourne Bookshop   for $29.95

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