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Feminisms, Islamophobia and identities

Afshar, H., Aitken, R. and Franks, M. (2005) Feminisms, Islamophobia and identities. Political Studies, 53 (2). pp. 262-283. ISSN 0032-3217

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There has been a tendency of late to conflate all Muslims as belonging to a single nation and aspiring to a single political aim. This effect has been achieved by some authors so as to accommodate Islamophobia, but by others to generate a sense of inclusive unity that encloses all Muslims. We contend that in the post 9/11 climate of Islamophobia women wearing the scarf, the mohajabehs, are making a political choice. They are publicly branding themselves as Muslims at a time when such a label carries the potential fear of making them vulnerable to open hostility. But the Islam that they embody is distinct and different from the stark, gendered divides envisaged by protagonists on both side of the Islamophobic divide. The unity demanded by some of the highly vocal and visible Islamic groups marginalises the contestations posed within these groups by women who may be described as feminists. The specificities demanded by those who envisage Islam primarily as an antagonistic political force in the UK are very different from the flexibility that many women envisage. They aspire to belong to the Umma or people of Islam, conceptualised as crossing ethnic, racial, geographical and political boundaries, an identity that is primarily inclusive rather than exclusive. The multiplicities of identities of many mohajabehs sit more easily within the permeable unbounded umma than the constrained gendered boundaries of the combative male political Islamism.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Theology & Religious Studies (Leeds)
The University of York > Politics (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2009 15:30
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2010 10:33
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2005.00528.x
Status: Published
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2005.00528.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7327

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