Sarah Munawar (She/Her) is a Pakistani-Muslim and settler living on and sustained by the occupied and unceded land and waters of the Coast Salish peoples including xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (TsleilWaututh) Nations. She received her Ph.D in political science from the University of British Columbia in 2019 and is also a political science instructor at Columbia College. She will be a visiting professor at the Elizabeth Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership (EDR) at the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston from January 2023-April 2024.
Grounded in her family’s stories of care and disability, in her research she designed an intersectional, Islamic and de-colonial ethic of care that centres the epistemic authority of disabled Muslims as knowers of Islam, Muslim practices of care and care-based modes of knowing Islam. Whether its naming the medical ableism and racism endured by her father in ICUs, or theorizing through the traumatic birth of her first child, or accounting for the invisible labour of primary care-givers like her mother, Munawar offers a vision of disability justice and collective accessibility that draws upon various lineages of anti-oppressive Islamic knowledge.
Writing from the borderlands, she interrogates the limits of comparative political theory and the colonial politics of recognition as paradigms for cross-cultural inquiry and culturally competent care. Instead she offers political theorists, and Muslims, an Islamic-feminist and de-colonial epistemology that prioritizes body-sense, consent-based care, intentionality and collective accessibility in knowledge consumption and knowledge production. She also offers healthcare workers a vision of disability justice that articulates the Islamic right of Muslims to culturally safe and appropriate care, as well as, Islamic right to supported caregiving.
As a Muslim settler, she mobilizes her research on care ethics and disability to ask: how can we re-imagine and re-orient Islamic practices of place-making and knowledge production to align ourselves within the Muslim Ummah, and in relationship with Indigenous peoples, in the global struggle against coloniality, in all of its forms and faces? And as a political theorist, she asks: how do ableist and white supremacist orientations and sensibilities of political theory, as a practice, contribute to the weaponization of care in our knowledge relations? How do we inherit the work of coloniality through knowledge consumption and production and cause harm to the communities we think/live with and the worlds we build through cross-cultural contact?
Whether its inscribing an isnad, or collating a works cited page, Islamic-feminist theorizing requires political theorists, and Muslims, to address and respond to the spectral, flesh and bone, dimensions of knowledge production. This includes being accountable to the worlds within which are knowledge is embedded, the care-work and the care-workers that pave way for us to face the writing table, and the histories of sense-contact by which our traditions are transmitted and inherited. An Islamic ethic of care charges us to be responsible for how our complicity in the violence of coloniality compromises our capacities as witnesses and bearers of truth.