Historicizing Muslim Women's Identities: Perspectives from South Africa

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Seminar Date
March 20, 2013
Monolithic stereotypes of Muslim women and their agency, or lack thereof, one that ignores racial, geographic, and class variations, has a long history, as Sarkar notes. Over the past decade or so, however, this seems to have intensified in the context of the “War on Terror” during which segments of the media as well as many academic studies have tended to portray Muslim communities in quite negative ways. Mishra (2007), for example, analyzed representations of Muslims in the New York Times between 11 September 2001 and 11 September 2003 and concluded that stories about Muslim women living in non-Western countries often represented them ‘as victims of violence and Islamic practices. Representations of Muslim women were also marked by a continual obsession with the veil. Muslim women were often portrayed as victims in need of Western liberation.’ This fear and suspicion of Islam is reflected, for example, in contestation over the wearing of veils by women in public spaces and construction of mosques and minarets in certain Western countries.
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