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Towards critical geographies of the university campus: understanding the contested experiences of Muslim students



This paper sets out an agenda for advancing critical geographies of the university campus. Despite the plethora of scholarship that highlights the complexity evident within other social locations, scales and sites, there is a dearth of geographical research about the construction and contestation of social and spatial relations experienced on university campuses. By exploring understandings of the contradictory and contested nature of everyday spaces developed by social and cultural geographers, I suggest that scholarship could usefully be extended to interrogate the complex ways in which different university campuses are constructed, contested and experienced. This paper explores these multiple constructions of the university campus through the narratives of 29 Muslim students attending a British higher education institution. I use these data to explore the multiple and contradictory discourses that students utilise, which simultaneously construct the university campus as tolerant and diverse and as discriminatory and exclusionary. This paper draws attention to the significance of spaces within universities as well as to the management of university space as crucial factors in providing environments suited to an increasingly diverse student body.