Mr Karim Mitha

Job: Lecturer

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Applied Social Sciences

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 257 6488

E: karim.mitha@dmu.ac.uk

W: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/hls

 

Personal profile

Karim Mitha is a Lecturer in Health Studies, with an inter-disciplinary background across the biological sciences, psychology, social sciences, and humanities. He holds degrees from Canada and the UK. His background in health psychology has enabled him to use mixed-methods research approaches to examine behavioural factors in health outcomes. His research themes are broadly aligned with diversity issues and cross-cultural care – looking at issues of social exclusion, acculturation, experiences of care, and factors involved in mental ill health. He also has a strong interest in policy matters – ranging from health policy to climate change, employing a comparative, international policy perspective. He also engages with social psychology perspectives to examine aspects of social policy, marginalization, religion, and culture within concepts of group process theory, identity, and social representation.

Research group affiliations

Publications and outputs 

  • Two cultures, one identity: formulations of Australian Isma’ili Muslim identity
    Two cultures, one identity: formulations of Australian Isma’ili Muslim identity Mitha, Karim; Adatia, Shelina; Jaspal, Rusi The Shi’a Imami Nizari Isma’ili Muslims have often been considered the "poster child" for pluralistic integration (Cayo 2008). This ethos has been inculcated within members of the community, with its adherents seeing themselves as a diverse and multi-ethnic collective. Nevertheless, despite this purported pluralism, social research on the Isma’ilis has primarily focused on the diasporic and post-diasporic migrant communities of South Asian descent, the ‘first and second-generation immigrants,’ in the Euro-American context (Mukadam and Mawani 2006, 2009; Nanji 1983, 1986). The experiences of co-religionists in other contexts have often been neglected. This study examines how members of the self-described geographically and socially isolated Isma’ili community in Australia construct their identity vis-à-vis the larger, global, Isma’ili community, and how they have responded to the potential of identity threat given the arrival of another group of Isma’ilis with a differing migratory history integrating into the extant community. Using the approach of identity process theory, this study examines how salient features of identity are constructed amongst the Australian Isma’ilis, how religion and identity take on multiple meanings within the Australian Isma’ili context, and, finally, sheds light on the self-sufficiency of this community despite geographic and social isolation. Open access journal
  • “The view ‘Down Under’": Australian Isma’ili Muslim youth and the quest for identity.
    “The view ‘Down Under’": Australian Isma’ili Muslim youth and the quest for identity. Mitha, Karim Populist media depictions of Islam as being at odds with the West in a ‘clash of civilizations’ have caused young Muslims living in Western contexts to feel increasingly pressured to establish their identity and allegiances. Whilst some may become apologetic, others may distinctively assert their religious identity as a sense of pride and celebrated difference (Jaspal, 2010; Mawani, 2006). Indeed, for young Muslims, religious identity is often intertwined with nationalistic and cultural identities (Anwar, 1998; Jaspal and Coyle, 2010; Mukadam 2003; Modood et al., 1997) which can impact acculturation. Given the diversity amongst the Muslim traditions, different Muslim migrant communities may experience acculturation differently. This paper examines the impacts of acculturation and identity amongst Isma’ili Muslim youth in Australia. Research on the global Ismai’ili community has primarily focused on the historical and sociological aspects of migration of the diasporic and post-diasporic communities, the ‘first and second-generation immigrants,in the Euro-American context (Mukadam and Mawani, 2006; Mukadam and Mawani, 2009; Nanji, 1983; Nanji, 1986). This study is the first to examine the self-identified socially and geographically isolated community in Australia, and how constructs of ethnicity, identity, nationality, religion, culture, and symbolic meaning-making are formulated amongst the growing youth population. The study also examines how these diasporic and post-diasporic youth relate to each other and develop salient features of their identity—how religious, cultural, and social factors influence construction of community-making within this religious and ethnic minority, and similarities, and differences, in these views amongst youth from the same ethno-cultural group but with different migratory histories. Building on the work of Moosa-Mitha (2009) and Mukadam and Mawani (2009), this study will demonstrate how religion and identity take on multiple meanings within the Australian Isma’ili context and shed light on the self-sufficiency of this community despite self-identified geographic and social isolation.
  • Unveiling the stigma: Australian South Asian Muslim views on mental illness
    Unveiling the stigma: Australian South Asian Muslim views on mental illness Mitha, Karim Little is known about the impacts of migration, adjustment, and acculturation on mental health, particularly amongst South Asian Muslim diasporic and post-diasporic youth. Though they may encounter mental health challenges, it is unknown how they frame these conditions - to what extent are their views influenced by traditional cultural or secular bio-medical attitudes towards mental illnesses? Notions of stigma, shame, and honour are considered strong reasons for the under-representation of South Asian in mental health services. This exploratory study investigated how South Asian Ismaili Muslim youth in Australia perceive concepts surrounding mental health and mental illness. A mixed-methods design, involving questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, was employed to compare the views of those youth born in Australia with youth recently migrated. Respondents’ definitions of mental health were often found to be conflated with mental illness or intellectual disabilities, although Australian-born respondents were more likely to acknowledge the nature-nurture debate. Whilst Australian-born youth were more likely to recognize various mental illnesses, there was no significant difference in both groups’ recognition of stress, anxiety, and depression. Although recent immigrants were more likely to say supernatural powers had an impact on mental illness, all respondents believed mental illnesses were treatable. Both groups were equally likely to have heard about mental health issues from a variety of sources and indicated they would turn to mental health professionals for assistance, although Australian-born youth were more likely to turn to their families. Unlike the literature, results suggest that while youth may not recognize mental illnesses, particularly immigrants, they know where to go and are willing to use Ismaili community services for mental health issues assuming concerns of trust and confidentiality are met. Youth also indicated a need for increased awareness of mental health issues, tied in with discussion of contemporary issues faced by Australian Ismaili youth.
  • “A place where everybody knows your name": The role of the faith-based community in developing mental health resiliencies amongst diasporic and post-diasporic Muslim youth in Australia.
    “A place where everybody knows your name": The role of the faith-based community in developing mental health resiliencies amongst diasporic and post-diasporic Muslim youth in Australia. Mitha, Karim The religio-cultural community of migrants from minority ethnic backgrounds often plays a strong role in their post-migration adaptation. While religion itself has been said to play an important role in construction of resilience (Abdel-Khalak, 2007; Moreira-Almeida, A., Neto, F.L., & Koenig, 2006; Bhugra, 2004; Davydov, D.M., Stewart, R., Ritchie, K., & Chaudieu, I., 2010, Dein, 2010), the social support network created through involvement in a religious community may also protect against development of mental health conditions (Pumariega, A., Rothe, & Pumariega, J., 2005; Bhugra et al, 2004; Dew et al, 2008).This is particularly relevant for immigrant communities who may encounter threats to mental health due to the migratory experience (Pumariega, A., Rothe, & Pumariega, J.,, 2005; Jibeen & Khalid, 2010). Much work has looked at the case of refugees and mental health outcomes and resiliencies (ie: Watters, 2001), yet little at the post-migratory experience on mental health for young immigrants, who often migrate for economic and educational opportunities, and the second-generation, who may encounter cultural and acculturative challenges (Pumariega, A., Rothe, & Pumariega, J., 2005; Bhugra et al, 2004). This is striking given the many changing life circumstances facing youth and the potentiality of development of mental health conditions (Bhugra, 2004; Patel, Flisher, Hetrick., & McGlory, 2007). Thus, it becomes important to examine the resiliencies of these recent-immigrant and second-generation youth and their strategies for mental well-being. This paper examines the case of the diasporic and post-diasporic Ismaili Muslim youth in Australia, the so-called recent and second-generation immigrant. It illustrates how they respond to mental health challenges encountered in the migratory experience, and examines the role of their faith-based community in the development of their mental health resiliencies. It builds upon the work of Moosa-Mitha (2009), in her study of Canadian Muslim immigrant youth, particularly engaging with her themes of “visibility” and “voice”, to showcase how Australian Muslim youth utilize concepts such as engagement with their faith and civic participation to develop positive mental health resiliencies when engaging with contemporary threats to mental health encountered through the migratory and acculturative experience.

Click here to view a full listing of Karim Mitha's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Medical geography
  • History of medicine
  • Social representation
  • Social psychology
  • Cross-cultural psychology
  • Religion/culture/ethnicity
  • Migration/acculturation/immigration
  • Identity
  • Mental health
  • Health policy
  • Climate change
  • Mixed methods
  • Public health/epidemiology

Qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) - McMaster University
  • BA (Hons) – McMaster University
  • Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities – Institute of Ismaili Studies
  • MPH – University of London
  • DLSHTM – London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Courses taught

  • HEST 1113 - Foundations of Health Improvement (module leader)
  • HEST 2120 - Healthcare Management (module leader)
  • HEST 2125 - Debates and Dilemmas
  • HEST 3127 - Health Promotion and Public Health
  • HEST 3118 - Gender and Health
  • HEST 3110 - Dissertation (module leader)
  • Psych 3035 - Psychology of Sexuality

Conference attendance

2013:

Mitha, K. “The view ‘Down Under’: Australian Isma’ili Muslim youth and the quest for identity. Interculturalism, Meaning, and Identity: A Diversity Recognition Project, Inter-disciplinary.net, March 2013, Lisbon, Portugal.

2012:

Mitha, K. “A place where everybody knows your name: The role of the faith-based community in developing mental health resiliencies amongst diasporic and post-diasporic Muslim youth in Australia. Health and Mental Resilience – An Interdisciplinary Approach, Jagiellonian University, October 2012, Krakow, Poland.

Mitha, K. Unveiling the stigma: Australian South Asian Muslim views on mental illness. Postgraduate Conference on the Study of Islam and Muslims, Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, May 2012, Dundee, Scotland, UK.

Current research students

Supervising one MRes student.

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