Banu Gökarıksel is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Through the ethnographic and multi-method fieldwork research she has been conducting in Istanbul since 1996, she analyzes the formation of Muslim subjects, spaces, and commodities within the Turkish context where Islam, gender, and consumer capitalism are fiercely debated. She is currently collaborating with Anna Secor (University of Kentucky) on a National Science Foundation-funded project that examines the production and consumption of veiling-fashion. Her publications have appeared in the journals Area, Global Networks, Social and Cultural Geography, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, The Annals of the Association of American Geographers, and Gender, Place, & Culture. She has contributed to several edited books and co-edited with Ellen McLarney a special issue of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies on Muslim women, consumer capitalism, and the Islamic culture industry.
Abstract: Harmonizing Inner and Outer Beauty: Aesthetics of Veiling Fashion in Turkey
Since the first appearance of new styles of veiling on the catwalk in 1992, there has been a striking diversification and growth of what we call veiling-fashion in Turkey. Veiling-fashion’s central piece remains the headscarf. However, today it consists of an array of brands and an ever-changing variety of designs and clothing pieces –from pants and tunics to strappy dresses worn over tank tops. All of these items are assembled to produce a certain ‘look’—a new aesthetics that defines veiling-fashion. This look is found in fashion shows and catalogues of leading companies that project images of fashionably veiled women as beautiful, cosmopolitan, and modern. It is also created and its stylistic details invented by fashion-conscious sophisticated consumers. Based on our analysis of catalogues and fashion shows and the focus group interviews we conducted with consumers in Istanbul and Konya in 2009, we argue that veiling-fashion valorizes an ideal of harmony that inseparably links aesthetics and ethics. In veiling-fashion Islamic piety becomes intertwined with beauty through this conception of harmony: a harmonious appearance and conduct means that the “outer” beauty of physical appearance is not only the reflection of “inner” beauty of piety and morality but also the means to achieve these goals. Thus, the aesthetics and ethics of veiling-fashion work together in the formation of pious Muslim self.
With an MFA in painting from UNCG, Todd Drake actively exhibits, conducts workshops, and speaks on stereotyping, Islamophobia, and on his collaborative art making practices with marginalized communities. Currently an artist in residence at UNC Chapel Hill’s Center for Global Initiatives, he began working with the center as a 2004-2005 Rockefeller fellow. While a fellow Drake co-created with Dr. Hannah Gill the book “Going to Carolina del Norte, Narrating Mexican Migrant Experiences.” He has also worked collaboratively with undocumented immigrants to create a picture book “Give Me Eyes: Crossing borders to the heart.” Since 2007, Drake has worked with the Muslim American community to create the series Esse Quam Videri – Muslim Self Portrait ( www.muslimselfportrait.info ) and has expanded the project to include stereotype breaking narratives of Muslims living in the Middle East and Europe. Drake has exhibited internationally including exhibitions in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, in college venues including Rhode Island School of Design, New York University, Michigan State University, in fine art galleries in Washington DC, Chicago, Charlotte, in museums such as the Heart Mountain Japanese Internment Camp Museum, the Mathers Museum of Word Culture, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, The Weatherspoon Art Museum, and The South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA.) His paintings and photographs are in private collections worldwide. In 2011 he traveled as a guest of the US State Department in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to conduct workshops and exhibit work from his Esse Quam Videri – Muslim Self Portrait Project. This ongoing project is supported by the Center for Global Initiatives, Fulbright-Hayes, and Department of Education Grants.
Drake’s newest exhibition is titled HELP: Hidden Work, Hidden Lives and draws connections over exploitative labor practices from slavery through Jim Crow to undocumented immigration. www.todddrake.wix.helpproject.
Abstract: Images of Self: Collaboration, Contemporary practice, and Social Activism in Art
We all look in the mirror from time to time. How we see ourselves however goes much deeper and includes our life’s narrative. How others interact with us is significantly effected by what they see and what narratives they know.
As an artist, I am interested in exploring the concept of self depiction, perception of the other, and the power that is inherent in a face and a story. I have worked in-depth with the Muslim American community to create images and share narratives that seek a deeper and broader understandings of self, in an effort to provoke consideration of simplistic stereotypes and to remind us of our shared humanity. This contemporary blending of borders between collaboration and self expression, visual and textual communication, teaching and activism, presents many challenges but I believe also holds the greatest promise for a clearer view before our common cultural mirror.
Marilia Marchetti is Professor of French and Francophone Literature at the University of Catania, Italy. Her research focuses on literature of the XIXth century (Charles Nodier, Gérard de Nerval, Alexandre Dumas and Fin-de-siècle Literature) and of the XXth century and extrême Contemporain (Nicolas Bouvier, Max Jacob, Jean Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Jacques Roubaud), poetic irony and the Francophone encounter of Salah Stétié and Édouard Glissant. She Her books include Gérard de Nerval. Percorsi ironici (1992), Un Discours fragmentaire. Essais de littérature française contemporaine (1996), Le Don de la parole. Stratégies d’écriture au XIXe siècle (1996), Retorica e linguaggio nel secolo dei lumi. Equilibrio logico e crisi dei valori, Roma, Edizioni di Storia e letteratura (2002), Poetica dell’ironia. Laclos, Stendhal, Dumas, Gautier, Nerval, Fargue, Jacob, Fondane, Sacré, Rende (2003), L’Altro allo specchio. Studi di letteratura francese tra Ottocento e Novecento (2007). She wrote a novel, Segreti di famiglia (2008). She is now working on a book on the German crisis in French literature.
Title and abstract: TBA
Typhaine Leservot is Associate Professor in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department (French) and College of Letters at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She specializes in the intersection of globalization and Francophone Postcolonial studies. Her first book, Le Corps mondialisé: Marie Redonnet, Maryse Condé, Assia Djebar, was on the globalization of the Barbie-like female body in French and Francophone literatures and cultures. She has also published articles on Maryse Condé, Assia Djebar, Occidentalism in Marjane Satrapi, the Muslim veil in Québec, the concept of “littérature-monde”, and Saint-Domingue creoles in Louisiana. Her current research project focuses on the impact of globalization on Francophone Postcolonial theory.
Abstract: Humor and the Veil in the Internet Age
From Danish cartoons in 2006, to a 2012 American video, “jokes about Islam” in Internet age have underlined the serious power of humor and its wide-ranging political impact: from world-wide demonstrations against jokes that attack a religion’s prophet, to declarations about free speech. For Giselende Ruikers, such “humor scandals” highlight and reinforce the uneven power relations between Muslims and the West that underlie the transnational public sphere that the Internet has become. By casting Muslims as people who “can’t take a joke”, these “humor scandals” turn Muslims further into an Other who can’t be part of Western modernity. Unlike jokes about the Prophet, humor about the Muslim veil has not provoked the same reactions. While the Muslim veil has been at the center of many cartoons and jokes in the European public sphere since France’s first veil affair in 1989, they sparked little controversies and few critics. What does this relative public silence about these jokes reveal about them and about the public sphere in which they appear? Are the separate spheres and gendering of sacred elements of Islam behind the discrepancy, or are there other factors at play?
Carla Jones is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She studies the intersection of gender and class in contemporary urban Indonesia. She has written on middle-class femininity, domesticity and manners, and is currently researching debates about pious Islamic fashions. She is especially interested in the contribution of feminist theory to scholarship on consumption and materiality. Her book, Objects of Desire, analyzes the intersection of anxiety and desire in Indonesian debates about consumption. She also co-edited Re-Orienting Fashion: The Globalization of Asian Dress and published her research in the journals American Ethnologist, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Ethnos and edited volumes Re-Orienting Fashion and The Middle Classes: Theorizing through Ethnography.
Abstract: The Edge of Modesty: the ethics and aesthetics of lace in Indonesian Islamic fashion
A central Orientalist anxiety about Islamic dress has centered on its delineation of the body through cover. By removing particular elements of the feminine body from public view, Islamic dress has contradicted hegemonic, especially Western, boundaries between public and private. In this paper, I analyze how one aspect of the diverse landscape of Islamic fashions in contemporary Indonesia, the widespread use of lace, highlights this tension about the border between the public and the intimate, and therefore related anxieties about concealment and revelation. I argue that the use of lace (often imported from France) in Indonesian Islamic dress is in conversation with two traditions, gendered European traditions in which lace has been a simultaneously opaque and transparent edging accent, and with Indonesian national traditions that have used lace as primary textile in women’s garments.
Elizabeth M. Bucar
Elizabeth M. Bucar is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern University. She earned a PhD and MA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Harvard University. Bucar writes and teaches on Islamic ethics, comparative ethics, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of The Islamic Veil: A Beginner’s Guide (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2012) and Creative Conformity: The Feminist Politics of U.S. Catholic and Iranian Shi‘i Women (Georgetown University Press, 2011). Bucar is currently working on a manuscript provisionally titled Pious Fashion: The Virtues of a Hijabi Fashionista.
Abstract: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Ambiguity: The Cultivation of Virtues Through Visual Culture
This paper explores the role of visual culture in moral formation in Islam through the case study of fashion-veiling. In addition to the role of visuality in subject formation and display of values, I argue that visual culture may be better able to express normative tensions and ambiguities than forms of written or oral communication. This ability to express ambiguity is perhaps why scholars have shied away from visual evidence in ethical scholarship: Scholarly description and explanation of visual culture is difficult because it is impossible to assign one meaning to image. However, this complexity can be a strength in the real world. For instance, visual communication allows an agent to remain intentionally ambiguous. It also provides a safeguard for critique: since images must be interpreted by the viewer, an agent can claim that any specific meaning attributed her sartorial style, it proven too radical, is “untrue.” Thus, I argue that by conceptualizing the Islamic Veil as visual culture allows us to see it existing in a realm of “permanent revolution” (Bourdieu, 1996 , 239) in which Muslim women use innovations in style and genre to oppose existing aesthetic conventions and thus challenge Islamic doctrine, authority, or specific moral teachings.
Homa Hoodfar is Professor of Anthropology at Concordia University. Her primary research and expertise lies in intersection of political economy and gender and development in the Muslim contexts and in unrevealing and understanding the complexities and implications of micro-macro linkages between social policies and women’s lived realities. She has extensively studied women’s indigenous strategies for autonomy and empowerment amongst those marginalised by legal and religious constraints particular in the area of family law, economic penury, public sphere and electoral politics, and displacement, in Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, and amongst United kingdom and Canada’s Muslim communities. She has written extensively on reproductive health policies, Islam, their discursive justifications, and impact and implications for women’s lives. She has also been actively been involved in Women Living Under Muslim laws network since 1980s. Amongst her publicationsare Sexuality in Muslim Contexts: Restrictions and Resistance (Anissa Helie); Electoral Politics: Making Quotas Work for Women (with Mona Tajali); The Muslim Veil in North America: issues and debates (With Sajida Alvi, and Sheila McDonough);Building Civil Societies: A Guide for Social and Political Participation (With Nelofer Pazira); Between Marriage and the Market: Intimate Politics and Survival in Cairo; Special Dossier: Shifting Boundaries in Marriage and Divorce in Muslim Communities, Women and Law in the Muslim World Program, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, (Guest Editor); Development, Change, and Gender in Cairo: A View from the Household. ed. Diane Singerman and Homa Hoodfar.
Abstract: The politics of veiling, code of modesty and women’s sport in The Islamic Republic of Iran and beyond.
The increasingly restrict and unconventional interpretation of Islamic mores by political Islamists, stressing the need for observing Islamic code of modesty goes far beyond wearing hijab which covers entire body except face and feet. The political Islamists have deemed women’s bodies and their physical movements to be a source of disorder which arises male sexual desire and create social disorder. Thus they promote an ideal society based on their “imagined glorious early Islamic community” which is a segregated society where a woman’s role is limited primarily to motherhood and care giving; ideally excluding of any form of contact with men outside their immediate kin. In response to these views, many women are taking up the Muslim veil and simultaneously demanding to have access to the public sphere and presenting their own interpretation of Islam which is based on gender justice and gender equality. Women have learned through their centuries of struggles that public visibility is the first step in establishing their rights as citizens. Their religiosity aside, They are not about to allow the political Islamists and conservatives using religion and morality as their privileged weapon, take the limited rights they have secured in the name of religion and cultural authenticity.
In the absence of formal democratic channels for citizens to have a real influence on public policies and programs in many Muslim majority societies, women have embarked on politicizing spaces normally viewed outside politics. It is in this context that fashion and sport in particular has proven to be a vociferous contestation arena where public/gender politics is played on and where women engage in re-mapping the boundaries of their public citizenship rights, particularly in societies where political Islamists are in control of the state such as Iran or where they had considerable influence over the government such as Malaysia or Algeria, that have given voice to very conservative and patriarchal gender ideologies and policies. Hence, beside having an inherent value and meaning, sport has also emerged as a pivotal medium by which women from various Muslim cultures and walks of life, have fashioned their strategies to redefine their identity for themselves and have postured for or against various ideas of what womanhood is or should be and the role of Islam in its definition as well as what sport is and what role it should play in women’s public life. In short, women’s sport has evolved to a space where women and citizens continue to launch covert and not so covert challenges over body politics, sexuality, and citizenship rights. Women’s sport, is a medium and space where women’s entanglement with politics, power, religion, and resources in the Muslim contexts is playing out. Hence in these contexts sport is only a versatile medium and does not determine the message itself. It is the women, the nature of their demands, and religio–political structure of their contexts that influences the message. Based on a longitudinal study the paper present the evolution of contestation over veiling, and women’s sport and gender rights discourse in Iran and wider Muslim contexts.
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